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August 21, 2006

Reuters begs the question: Who said?

A Reuters dispatch headlined "Israeli Airstrikes Hit Gaza; Two Fox News Journalists Kidnapped," in The Washington Post's Aug. 15, 2006 edition, conspicuously omits a basic fact. Reporting on two Israeli Defense Forces air attacks in the Gaza Strip the day before, the news service states:

"Residents of the building were told to leave before the strike, but medics said eight people living nearby were injured."

Reporting the second attack, Reuters states:

"Again, those living in the building were told to leave before the attack."

Who told them? The journalistic essentials, whether for coverage of a car crash or a Middle East conflict, always are who, what, when, where, why, and how. But Reuters does not tell readers who called for evacuations. It might have been Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement), neighbors, or even the IDF itself.

The Associated Press provided the answer. Covering the same initial August 14 attack, AP explained that "Palestinian officials said the house had been evacuated two days before when Israeli officials called the residents and told them a strike was imminent."

Reuters, founded in 1851, bills itself as the world's largest multimedia news service, with 15,000 employees in 91 countries. Anyone can make a mistake, even an industry giant. But for Reuters not to report who, when that fact already was old news for AP, leaves us wondering. Why? -- J.F.

Posted by ER at August 21, 2006 05:40 PM


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