Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Another Smack

Hmm. Once again, I'm borrowing from a progressive web site's coverage of journalism gone bad but in both cases, they're right.

To follow up on the item on the CNN headline yesterday: First, everything I've ever learned or, in turn, taught, says to avoid characterizing something, particularly from one side, in a hed. So, assuming the headline writer didn't deliberately drop the quotes--and I'm guessing it was an accident--then, still, there's a problem. The hed depends on one side of an ugly, highly partisan debate and renders it as fact. "Defeatist" is in no way a neutral term, no matter who's saying it about whom. And quote marks don't protect the writer from having unacceptably chosen sides in the debate.

I am busy trying to track down the headline editor who is quoted on the ACES site to see if he wants to talk about how headlines are written on television web sites. (Not trying to bash him personally, just thinking it's time to hear from someone at, which routinely ignores e-mailed comments.) We've all noticed in the past that they need help but this one cited yesterday really brings things to a head. So to speak.

Second, there's this gem from Josh Marshall, pointing out the editing of a story in the New York Post.

Here's the original, or at least the basic story as moved by The AP. Each paper may run slight variations, of course.

It'll be interesting to what, if anything, the AP has to say about this wholesale rewrite of its story. It is, in fact, a different story, with the AP byline still attached.

It's been a long time since we saw such a blatant bit of partisanship in print.

I don't, in fact, know what the news service contracts with client papers say but certainly, David Espo and others can't be happy with this. If for some reason the NY Post link doesn't work, here's part of how the story appeared in that paper:

April 24, 2007 -- WASHINGTON - The White House warned yesterday that Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid's new legislation requiring the first U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by Oct. 1 is a "death sentence" for millions of freedom-loving Iraqis.

The stinging comments from President Bush's spokeswoman came just days after Reid declared the war is already "lost" and as negotiators for the House and Senate nailed down the details of the war bill, which also set a goal of completing the pullout by April 2008.

Dana Perino, the president's spokeswoman, charged that Reid is in denial about the vicious nature of the enemy and about the U.S.-led plan to provide more security in Iraq.

Reid (Nev.) had earlier accused Bush of being in a "state of denial" about what's happening in Iraq four years after America went to war.

Perino fumed about Reid, "He's also in denial that a surrender date - he thinks it is a good idea. It is not a good idea. It is defeat.

"It is a death sentence for the millions of Iraqis who voted for a constitution, who voted for a government, who voted for a free and democratic society," she added.

NB: I've trimmed the story from the bottom up only to avoid questions of fair-use issues.

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