Skip to Content
OKC Media

Could a leak at New Mexico’s nuclear waste site reach the KFOR news team?

10:30 AM EST on February 25, 2014

Last night, I sent Tony a link to an absurd story on KFOR. He then responded with a link to the Wikipedia entry for something called the Betteridge's law of headlines. If you're like me and have no clue what that means, here's the description:

Betteridge's law of headlines is an adage that states: "Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no." It is named after Ian Betteridge, a British technology journalist...

Betteridge explained the concept in a February 2009 article, regarding a TechCrunch article with the headline "Did Just Hand Over User Listening Data To the RIAA?":

"This story is a great demonstration of my maxim that any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word "no". The reason why journalists use that style of headline is that they know the story is probably bullshit, and don’t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it."...

Betteridge has admitted violating his own law (writing a question headline with the answer "yes") in an article published at his own site.

Holy crap, that total describes the writing style of the KFOR Social Media Bandit. Almost every headline he / she writes on Channel 4's website or Facebook page is in the form a question. Did this sex offender live in your neighborhood? Doubt it. Is this medical breakthrough the cure for cancer? Probably not. Is Emily Sutton in love with her serious boyfriend. Uhm.

Anyway, there's really no point to making fake KFOR headlines and bullshit stories because they do a good enough job on their own. Check out this desperate sweeps story from yesterday's 6:00pm news broadcast. It's the perfect example of Betteridge's law or headlines:

kfor radiation leak oklahoma

Yeah, I think we can predict the answer to the question. But don't take my word for it, watch the full report. You can do so by clicking on the scary gigantic mushroom cloud below. Because you know, radiation leaks in New Mexico always result in nuclear Armageddon.

So everything's fine and we have nothing to worry about, but let's ignore all that and hype the fear. Seriously, I love KFOR like a campy B-movie. The weaker the news story, they more they try to play it up and scare you. They don't give up. I bet the newsroom conversation went like this:

Ed Doney: Bad news. Based on my interviews, it turns out the leak isn't a threat and we're all safe.

KFOR News Director: We're all safe, huh? I don't think anybody will watch that. We need drama and fear. Did you see what News 9 is doing? We're up against a report about the "Metro's Most Dangerous Intersections."

Ed Doney: Fuck! I have an idea, what if we presented the radiation leak as if it was real danger. You know, something to worry about. That will probably scare people into watching.

KFOR News Director: Great idea, Doney. Show nuclear bombs exploding in the background. That always gets attention.

Ed Doney: Will do, sir. Will do.

To make this whole thing extra embarrassing, KFOR snagged the story from the Red Dirt Report. And they admitted to it, too. I don't know about you, but that site's a little too tinfoily for my taste. I'm pretty sure the site's publisher owns a shortwave radio, carries around a copy of Catcher in the Rye, and thinks the moon landing is fake. KFOR picking up on a story from Red Dirt Report would be like CNN mining Coast to Coast for leads...which now that I think about it, is probably something they've done. Never mind.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter