IT cannot be denied that the aim of the journalist, first and foremost, is to grab the reader’s attention. If your story is not being read, you have failed in your purpose.

There are various ways and means of achieving this. A snappy or powerful headline is often key. A punchy intro is a must. What we must not do, in the case of a quality newspaper like The Herald, is indulge in sensationalism.

The Oxford Dictionary defines sensationalism as “the presentation of stories in a way that is intended to provoke public interest or excitement, at the expense of accuracy”. Those italics are mine. We must make sure all the facts are there, present and correct. Sometimes, though, readers see more sensation than salient information.

We have had two such instances this week. On Monday, John-Paul Holden reported that the English Department at James Gillespie’s High in Edinburgh said they no longer wanted to teach Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men because of their “dated” approach to race. Immediately, some readers began posting online about the books being “banned” and that the next stage would be putting them on a bonfire.

Except that the books aren’t banned. John-Paul quoted Stephen Kelly, secondary headteacher representative on Edinburgh Council’s Equalities Board, as saying: “I’m not saying that we’d ban To Kill a Mockingbird or Of Mice and Men ... but if you were going to teach something around what white saviourism actually is, you might use these books as an example.”

The story opened up a lively debate on our Letters Pages about the so-called cancel culture, changing attitudes and mores, and how we should react to them.

On Tuesday, Tom Gordon revealed that former cabinet secretary Aileen Campbell was paid a resettlement grant of £64,470 after quitting as an MSP in May, plus £12,112 for loss of ministerial office – despite having already landed a new job before leaving her old one. There is an obvious public interest issue here: does such a situation suggest that the system is at fault?

Tom was at pains to point out that Ms Campbell “did not apply for any money, and there is no suggestion of wrongdoing on her part”. That point bypassed several commentators, with posts about snouts and troughs being bandied about: one reader wrote “she was in it for what she could get out of it”. Another, though, got to the crux of the matter on our Letters Pages. Should Ms Campbell’s situation lead us to a rethink of the situation, perhaps introducing a form of means testing?

Both these stories grabbed the readers’ attention. Both opened up genuine debate. And, above all, both put all the facts out there. Guilty of sensationalism? We would deny the charge. Perhaps you would like to give us your own verdict.