A Note on How Charisma News Re-Writes Syndicated Headlines

Two different headlines for the same story on the Evangelical/Neo-Pentecostal news website Charisma News:

As the byline shows, the story was syndicated from the Religion News Service. The RNS itself gave the story the headline “Notable Christians Who’ve Had a Change of Heart on LGBT Issues“: (1)

 It seems reasonable enough that the re-publisher of a syndicated story should have some leeway with amending headlines: there may be spacing issues, or a wish to emphasise a different aspect of the story. However, it seems to me unethical to change a headline to give the strong impression that a story has been written from a particular angle when this is not the case – especially when a named author is bylined.

In this instance I compared the RNS headline with the “8 Evangelical Leaders Who Have Publicly Embraced Apostasy” version on Twitter, which resulted in some criticism of Charisma News from other users. It appears that this fed back to the site, which decided to amend its headline.

However, it is not the sole example. In November, Charisma News changed the Reuters headline “Le Pen Says ‘World Peace’ Would Gain from a Trump-Putin-Le Pen Trio” into “Trump Presidency Could ‘Bring World Peace,’ Says French Leader“, which obviously misrepresented how Reuters regarded Marine Le Pen; and before that, two Reuters journalists named Alexander Winning and Denis Pinchuk were transformed into End-Times prognosticators when the Reuters headline “Russia, Spurning Censure, Launches  Second Day of Syria Strikes From Iran” morphed into “Is this the Beginning of Gog and Magog?” (2) I expect there are other examples.


(1) The RNS story was written to tie in with news that the evangelical pastor Eugene Peterson had told the RNS’s Jonathan Merritt that he would be willing to perform a same-sex wedding ceremony. Peterson came under criticism for this, and the evangelical book chain LifeWay announced plans to remove his books from its shelves, including The Message, a popular translation of the Bible in contemporary idiom. Peterson then backtracked.

(2) The Reuters article as published by Charisma appears to have been later superseded on Reuters with an updated version in which Pinchuk’s byline was replaced with Andrew Osborn.

One Response

  1. Holy Wedlock is between one man and one woman for life – let us be realistic rather than playing around with gender bending. The best way to help and the only way to glorify God is to preach repentance from sin.

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