Sunday, July 30, 2006

A tale of two headlines, two stories

First headline:
20 Taliban killed in southern Afghanistan
(read more)

Second headline:
Israeli Airstrikes Kill 20, Destroy Homes
(read more)

What we have here are two problematic, though obviously very serious, headlines and stories.

The first identifies 20 Taliban. I presume the second isn't talking about goats, but it doesn't say.

The first story is from the usually reliable AFP (Agence France-Presse). However, this time they phone it in. The story doesn't mention civilian casualties, which I assume there were. Why not? Well it could be because they're feeding you info given them by "the US military". Ya wouldn't expect "the US military" to call attention to civilian deaths, would ya? Just asking.

The second story is from the sometimes reliable AP (Associated Press). They relied on "Lebanese officials" for their information, but don't identify who was killed, Hizballa or civilians. I'm guessing civilians from the story. I would expect "Lebanese officials" to want to tell the world it was civilians and maybe they did identify the dead as such. If that's the case, the AP blew it by not giving that info to the reader.

In both stories, there is a glaring lack of journalism. These press agencies hire, usually, much better writers than I. But writing gooder than me isn't all they're hired to do. They should have dug deeper and told the reader how many civilians were killed, how many women, how many children and elderly as well as how many terrorists. The sports reporters give more complete info in their stories.

The reader needs the whole picture to know what is happening.

Update: As I was writing this post, AP re-posted their story. The headline now reads —; — Israeli Airstrikes Kill 40 in Lebanon Town — — and they say at least 10 children and elderly were killed. They also quote Hezbollah's al-Manar TV station which says 21 children were killed. However, that TV channel has an obvious bias, so one can figure somewhere between 10 and 21 children were killed. The new post still gives no number of Hizballa killed.

My initial take on both stories was they were attempting to trump the competition by being out first with the story. That's a laudible ambition, but not at the sake of completeness.



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