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Irritating F/A Headlines, Stereotypes Prevail

Source: Archived Content

Date: Nov 09, 2000

The following headlines have been reported by major news sources during the past few days.  See if you can spot a difference in how the press seems to be handling the two different UAL employee groups: mechanics and flight attendants.

First, here are the headlines that relate to the failed wage talks for mechanics:

UAL, Machinist Adjourn Talks With No Agreement -- November 9th, 2000 (Reuters)
United, Mechanics Talks at a Stalemate -- November 8th, 2000 (AP Financial)
United Talks with Mechanics Halted -- November 7th, 2000 (Reuters)
Mediator Halts Talks Between United, Mechanics -- November 7th, 2000 (Reuters Securities)

Now let's see what some of those same news sources had to say about the failed wage talks for the flight attendants:

Flight Attendants to Protest United -- November 7th, 2000 (AP Financial)
United Attendants to Fight Merger -- November 7th, 2000 (Reuters)
UAL Flight Attendants Reject Proposal -- November 7th, 2000 (Reuters)
United Airlines Attendants Reject Proposed Pay Plan -- November 7th, 2000 (Wall St. Journal)

Please notice the use of language here.  With the mechanics, the news sources use words that emphasize the talks themselves are being stopped, or halted---without an agreement by either side.  Like a nice game of chess, a stalemate.

However, with the flight attendants, the use of words like 'fight' and 'reject' suggest negative action strictly on the part of the flight attendants, with the news emphasis moved away from the failed talks themselves and on to the flight attendants having a negative reaction.  The two top headlines shown above don't even mention the failed wage talks.  They simply shout out to the traveling public that UAL flight attendants will 'protest' and 'fight'.

What wins the prize, however, is our very own United Airlines NewsReal:

Flight Attendant Contract Wage Conference Effort Stalled by AFA -- Nov. 7th, 2000


stall - v. 1. play for time when being questioned etc.  2. delay, obstruct
                                              -----The Oxford Dictionary of Current English, 1992.

By using words similar to 'delay' or 'obstruct', this headline takes the public's attention away from the main issue: That on November 4th, 2000, United Airlines and it's flight attendants failed to reach a wage agreement. 

Or am I just crazy this morning?

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