Founded 29 October 2019
HEADLINE is a news organization built on concrete principles of unbiased reporting. We deal in cold hard facts and objective truth; not to push an agenda, but simply put–for the love of news. – The HEADLINE Mission Statement.
The HEADLINE news project was founded by Aaron Martinez, an entrepreneur, filmmaker, and political commentator from San Antonio, Texas. As a journalist, Martinez began his career by covering Capitol Hill before focusing on presidential primaries. In 2020, he was credentialled by Senator Sanders’s Presidential Campaign and Senator Warren’s Presidential Campaign. Aaron Martinez is also a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Martinez originally conceived HEADLINE as a syndicated news service for financial management companies, but HEADLINE evolved into a different beast entirely after the February 2020 onset of the Coronavirus. With pandemic came misinformation and raging fires of fake news were stoked by increasingly-partisan forces that dominated the media landscape.
Aaron Martinez was quoted as saying, “Institutional media has become so biased, you have to read ten different publications to get the full picture (of a news story).”
Now there are of course some hallmark media brands that consistently hold the middle ground–the Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg, etc. Wire services especially, rate the highest in terms of balanced coverage. But the readership of wire-service style papers dwarfs in comparison to left-right journals farther removed from the center. Why then, would readers prefer mainstream partisan news over impartial wire services when a recent Gallup poll found that:
- 9% in U.S. trust mass media “a great deal” and 31% “a fair amount”
- 27% have “not very much” trust and 33% “none at all”
- The percentage with no trust at all is a record high, up to five points since 2019.
Martinez, the HEADLINE founder, summarized the media paradox like this:
“Statistically speaking, the majority of Americans are relatively moderate. But we, as individuals, hold personal opinions and beliefs that cover a range of positions far in excess of those traditionally available on a left-right continuum. This discrepancy is not adequately addressed by institutional media, where demographics are monolithic and bias-reinforcement is the path of least resistance. So if most Americans are painfully aware of this reality, which we are, why do we gravitate to papers that only offer a partial picture of our belief systems, when wire services are much more in-line with our values? Emotion!”
Emotion, opinion, stakes, skin in the game. Sensationalism. A study at McGill University in Canada illustrated at length how newsreaders/watchers are drawn to negative or sensationalist headlines. When we pick up a newspaper or scroll through Apple News, we often gravitate to the most emotionally-sapping, adrenaline-pumping, fear-inducing variants of coverage.
Wire services can’t compete with human nature. Generally, they don’t even try, building their business models around enterprise solutions and analytics where rigid factualism is gold currency. By succeeding in this approach, the middle of the field was effectively seeded to center-left and center-right organizations. Historically, the center-left and center-right newspapers held the middle by taking extreme care to adhere to certain principles of balanced journalism, i/e drawing a red line between the newsroom and editorial/opinion dept.
But in recent years, the center-right and center-left papers shifted away from a commitment to balanced journalism–blurring the lines between opinion and news, all the while commanding an even larger share of the media ecosystem.
2016: The election of President Donald J. Trump in 2016 accelerated the transformation of institutional media; center-left papers were pulled farther left and center-right papers were pulled hard right. For the next four years, the media’s entrenched partisanship grew, paired in opposite measure to the crumbling trust in media by the American public.
When the economy-crippling Coronavirus pandemic arrived, it proved to be a partisan foil of such magnitude that the center-left and center-right papers of record dropped all pretense of fair and balanced journalism.
Aaron Martinez plotted the trajectory of this looming journalistic crisis. He analyzed the growing disparity in media representation, calculating the staggering scale of a chasm left by institutional papers that no longer represent the majority of Americans.
HEADLINE was engineered from that point onward to address the fallout of center-left and center-right institutions descending into far-left and far-right partisanship while failing to seed the middle.
But the media paradox persisted: How can an unbiased news organization match the emotional appeal of partisan sensationalism? How can a journal elicit excitement while adhering to the rigid factualism of a wire service?
Aaron Martinez solved the media paradox by defining the HEADLINE philosophy and guiding principle in the final line of the HEADLINE mission statement: “…for the love of news.”
Martinez summarized the philosophy as follows: “Technically speaking, it’s impossible to present facts in an exciting way without implicit or explicit bias of some kind. Any attempt to the contrary will result in mechanical language sets best left to data scientists. HEADLINE philosophy accepts one kind of bias, which will inform every editorial choice we make. The bias we are committed to propagating at every opportunity is an exciting, all-encompassing passion for news. You could further unpack our bias conceptually, summarizing it as “news for news’ sake.” The HEADLINE journalists, before anything else, will be super fans of news. Fans of the extraordinary power of journalism in society, fans of the historic relevance of journalism, fans of colorful storytelling, fans of literature and design, and the craftsmanship of typefaces–the art of structure, and writing on a deadline.”
As fans of news, we read all the news. Here are some of our favorite publications, frequently cited in HEADLINE articles:
The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, The Hill, Axios, The Washington Post, The New York Post, Huffington Post, Fox News, CNN, The Atlantic, The Economist, The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Telegraph, New York Magazine, Time Magazine, Vogue Magazine, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, Slate, Vox Media, The Daily Wire, Mother Jones, Vice News, MSNBC, CNBC, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, Market Watch, AP News, Reuters, Bloomberg.
There are many other publications we read but are less likely to cite in-article due to outstanding questions arising from coverage. We read all the news so you don’t have to!