Is this RGJ headline misleading?

While prowling through today’s front pages (through the wonderful Newseum, of course,) from Nevada, I became interested in how the RGJ decided to play the story about the University of Nevada’s presidential search committee recommending Dr. Marc Johnson for the position of president. Johnson has served as interim president since the death of his predecessor, Milton Glick, and it came as a surprise to no one that he was selected by the committee. I’ve liked Johnson since I found out that he helped found a chapter of my fraternity as Emporia State University in Kansas.) The RGJ, as you can see below, decided to play the story up big.

As you can probably tell by the title of this post, I think the Johnson headline could be easily misconstrued by someone not overtly familiar with the entire story. The headline, “Hometown candidate gets nod,” is misleading because Reno isn’t really the hometown of Johnson. If you look up his bio, Johnson was actually born and educated in Kansas, and only came to Nevada in 2008 to become provost. Merriam-Webster defines hometown as, “The city or town where one was born or grew up; also : the place of one’s principal residence.” 

Technically, the Reno is the hometown of Johnson, as he has lived here for four years. But using the word hometown could lead to someone assuming that Johnson is a Nevada native or UNR graduate, which is not true. I know how difficult it is to write decent headlines when constrained by columns and font size, but it’s critical to make sure that headlines are as accurate as possible. Especially when it’s on the front page.

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