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July 25, 2005

IHT Equalizes Murderers and Their Victims

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Question: How can editors ruin a perfectly solid news story?
Answer: By slapping on a bad headline.

Today's prime example is an article printed in the International Herald Tribune, which is published by the New York Times. The article, by Times Jerusalem bureau chief Steven Erlanger, opens with the accurate report:

Palestinian gunmen sprayed a civilian Israeli convoy with automatic fire early Sunday morning, killing a husband and wife and wounding four other Israelis, three of them seriously. The attack took place on the main road connecting Israel's Gaza settlements with Israel.

Israeli Army and security guards fired back, killing one gunman immediately and another after a pursuit. Two soldiers were also lightly wounded.

But the Tribune headline writer completely fails at his job, which is to accurately convey the crux of the story in just a few words. His headline:

2 Israelis are killed and then 2 Palestinians

There is no distinction between killer and victim, no indication of who attacked whom, no hint that the Palestinians died in the course of attacking innocent civilians. In contrast, the New York Times headline writer, whose headline accompanied the exact same Erlanger report, hit the nail on the head, proving that it can be done:

Palestinians kill 2 Israeli Civilians on Road From Gaza

Posted by TS at July 25, 2005 02:35 AM

Comments

Almost all Swedish newspapers published a text about the Saturday Gaza murdering by Swedish national newswire TT (http://www.tt.se ). The text title is “Two Palestinians shot to death”.

Here is some links to the papers pushed the TT-text under title “Two Palestinians shot to death”:

http://www.bohuslaningen.se/tt.php?id=199214&avdelning_1=101&avdelning_2=115
http://www.ystadsallehanda.se/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050724/TTU/8505
http://www.trelleborgsallehanda.se/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050724/TTU/8505
http://www.hallandsposten.se/artikel.asp?oid=73555
http://www.norran.se/artikel.php?id=535274&avdelning_1=102&avdelning_2=104
http://www.nlt.se/tt_artikel.php?id=16996&avdelning_1=102&avdelning_2=48
http://www.barometern.se/article.php?args=892261,103;124;0;0
http://www.nsd.se/index.php?mitt=tt&ttid=ut&artikel=11722
http://www.op.se/parser.php?level1=2&level2=3&id=498814
http://www.ltz.se/artikel_standard.php?id=249697&avdelning_1=101&avdelning_2=144
http://www.smp.se/article.php?args=556013,101;123;0;0
http://www.kristianstadsbladet.se/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050724/TTU/8505
http://www.hn.se/m_standard.php?id=447776&avdelning_1=109&avdelning_2=243&
http://www.blt.se/article.php?args=603135,102;150;175;0
http://news.nyhet.nu/visa/template-nyhet.html?nyhetsid=120138
http://www.tidningen.to/las.asp?toppid=001&typ=tt&id=1477144
http://www2.unt.se/avd/1,1786,MC=1-AV_ID=419951,00.html

Posted by: Dmitri Vasserman at July 25, 2005 10:22 AM

The reporters are rarely the ones who draft the headlines. Particlularly where the body of the piece was so fair,as in this case, it's most likely that he didn't come up with that absurd headline.

Posted by: frimet roth at July 25, 2005 11:37 AM

You are assuming that the headline writers at the International Herald Trib have it as their goal to write objective headlines.

I read the Trib whenever I'm in a country that prints it, and it has been apparent for a long time that the editors put a high priority on demonizing the Jewish State. It shows in their headlines and editorials, and in their choice of op-eds and of which letters to the editor to print.

It must be hard for them that sometimes the NY Times sends them a fair and balanced story about Israel. In such cases the best they can do is to write an unfair headline and hope their readers browse the headline and skip the story.

Posted by: Diana at July 25, 2005 09:55 PM

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