I was listening to Ann’s podcast last night and she was talking about cultural literacy and particularly about Ta-Nehisi’s epic article about reparations and she mentioned an amusing WNYC piece about how to tell if someone had read this article or not, based in what they were talking about in regards to it. It seems, perhaps unsurprisingly that given the length of the piece and the politically charged issue it’s tacking, that a lot of people read the title and a few lines of the intro then walked away but this didn’t prevent them from spouting off in public with all kinds of opinions about the piece and critiquing the conclusions it came to – though often these people are critiquing the wrong conclusions because they didn’t actually read it. This lead to a further discussion about how often, in their race to be first, many journalists and commentators around the web will send out links to articles they haven’t read past the headline. And in many cases they never go back and read them, but will reference them later as if they had. So it’s a good thing that headlines are never misleading.
This got me thinking about a story in which some of the major players communicate through hidden messages buried late in long drawn our pieces published with incredibly boring titles. The secret messages not even being coded or disguised in anyway, just tacked on so late in an eye bleedingly boring story that no one other than the intended recipient would ever bother reading that far.