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September 15, 2010

AP: "Israeli aircraft strike Gaza as leaders convene"

Imagine you are a headline writer for the Associated Press, and you're handed a story that starts as follows:

Militants launched mortar shells into Israel and Israeli jets bombed targets in Gaza on Wednesday, just as Israeli and Palestinian leaders held peace talks in Jerusalem with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Gaza militants opposed to peace with Israel have threatened to derail the fledgling negotiations, and the Israeli military said eight mortars and one rocket hit Israel by mid-afternoon on the day of the talks the highest daily total since March 2009. There were no injuries.

Israeli warplanes responded by bombing a smuggling tunnel along the Gaza-Egypt border, the military said. Hamas officials said one person was killed and four wounded.

What headline would you choose in order to best convey the crux of the story? "Palestinians Attack Prompts Israeli Retaliation"? Maybe "Gaza Militants Spark Fighting During Peace Talks"? Or "Gaza Tunnel Bombed After 8 Mortars Fall in Israel"? All of the above would be fair.

But for much of today, the title that showed up on countless websites carrying AP stories told only of Israeli violence during negotiations: "Israeli Aircraft Strike Gaza as Leaders Convene."

The title was eventually changed to the more fair, but still imprecise, "Amid Peace Talks, Gaza Shells and Israel Air Raids."

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Posted by GI at September 15, 2010 04:03 PM

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