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Headline changed after readers respond to poorly worded tweet

April 11, 2012 | 11:23 am

Zimmerman tweet

Sometimes it takes fewer than 140 characters to make a big impression -- the wrong impression, in the case of a tweet sent from our @latimes Twitter handle Tuesday morning.

The tweet in question referenced a recently published story about George Zimmerman, the man at the center of the case of the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. The text of the tweet closely followed the language of the story's original headline:

Zimmerman1

Readers were quick to respond on Twitter, objecting to the tone of the tweet and headline, which they interpreted as supportive of Zimmerman's fundraising efforts. 

The reaction on Twitter prompted discussion in The Times' newsroom, and editors agreed that the headline read too much like an endorsement. They decided to rewrite the headline, which now reads "Trayvon Martin case: George Zimmerman website solicits donations."

And Assistant Managing Editor Henry Fuhrmann sent a note to editors who contribute to the @latimes Twitter account, saying, "Just a reminder, tweets have to stand on their own, without the context, nuance and background afforded by the item we are linking to. In other words, don’t assume that readers will follow the link. And remember that irony or sarcasm may not always translate."

Unfortunately, we can't unring the bell on Twitter, but we do appreciate the efforts of those followers who took the time to point out our unfortunate choice of words. 

-- Martin Beck and Lindsay Barnett, social media team

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