It's not her fault a copy editor wrote a bad headline.
I was a newspaper journalist for more than 30 years. About half of that time I was a reporter.
I can't tell you how many times some copy editor ruined a story of mine with a bad or wrong headline.
It got to the point, I stopped looking at my stories after they had been printed or posted online.
The other half of the time I spent in newspapers, I was a copy editor.
I certainly made my share of mistakes, but even at the smallest newspaper, at least three sets of eyeballs would check each story -- and headline.
(And no doubt, this blog post could use another edit by another person.)
I have my doubts about what happens at the Washington Post -- a newspaper owned by a billionaire.
There's a big difference between exoneration and "declined to indict."
The headline is a particular shame because the writer did such a nice job in finessing the issue up top with her description of the self-confessed killer as "still alive and free."
I'm pretty sure she didn't use exonerate for a reason.
One sloppy copy editor ruins an excellent effort.
I suspect if said editor is confronted with this error, he or she will try to defend it -- perhaps an attempt by the editor at exoneration, if you will
But according to the law, few people are exonerated, even when they are acquitted after a trial or the prosecution simply chooses not to charge.
The official reason (and style and usage rule) is that the law presumes innocence. So, the argument goes, there is nothing to exonerate.
Sadly, the prosecution all too often uses this excuse to hide its incompetence or even malice.
At the same time, this supposed exoneration appears to be anything but that -- more likely it is a gross injustice. I would suggest quotes around exoneration -- but there was no actual exoneration, legal or otherwise.
Again, excellent journalism on the reporter's part, not so much on the part of an alleged editor.