ddn Online

The Blog of Drug Discovery News

Headlines and real messages

As I consulted the news feeds this morning, I saw this headline, and boy did it catch my attention…

GSK faces Q4 profit wipe-out on $3 billion legal hit

Wipe out!

$3 billion!

Legal hit!

The sky is falling!

OK, got a little snide with that last one.

Anyway, if you want to read the full Reuters story, it’s here, but I don’t really want to talk about the fourth-quarter news but rather the business of reporting that news…and other happenings in pharma and biotech.

There is nothing wrong with that headline, technically speaking. All the words are accurate. But taken as a whole…my, isn’t it dramatic! Now, Reuters is pretty much mainstream news media, and the mainstream news does tend to get excitable when there are big numbers, and they want to excite the public so that they can generate more attention for themselves as the news reporters.

No shame there, really.

But it does make me stop and think, because whenever I’m looking to write a headline for one of my articles, I like to get something catchy and/or exciting. It might be a play on words or a dramatic presentation or something else. That’s the job of a headline. It’s supposed to grab attention.

However, I think I’ll be a bit more careful now, after seeing that Reuters headline. Truth is, so what if GSK pretty much had a wash with its Q4 profits? Yes, it hurts, but as the story points out, the company is trying to clear its plate of some legal entanglements and move forward. Does anyone who really understands the world of business and the pharma industry think that GSK won’t be right back to make significant profits in the next quarter…two at the outside?

Will they be as much profit as the company wants or needs? Maybe not.

But we can call off Chicken Little, no matter how much the headline begs for him to start spreading word of this “devastating” news. The sky is not falling.

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January 18, 2011 - Posted by | Corporate, Editorial/Journalism Musings

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