Friday, May 25, 2007

Elite Republicans and other delights

A pair of diverse reminders of why editors can't just grab random nouns for headline use and expect to be understood -- or, more to the point, expect to not be ridiculed or taken to task for grossly slanting the news.

Exhibit A, from the leading local morning daily:
Vets plan challenge to protest judgment
A recent court ruling that upheld the right to protest at the Memorial Day air show will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, a lawyer representing the Salute to Veterans Corp. said Wednesday.

The distal end of a prepositional phrase is a long way to go for the subject of a hed, isn't it? People who voted for Nixon aren't "Nixons." People who read vampire novels aren't "vampires." How did the people who run the Salute to Veterans Corp. get to be "vets"?

OK, granted, there are exceptions. Nixon probably voted for Nixon (hell, Pat probably did too). And after a long night of spreading horror among the innocent, many copy editors like to curl up with a warm glass of blood and read "Scoop"; why wouldn't vampires do something similar? The point is that these folks aren't in the story because of their service status (which isn't specified; the only person in the story I know to be a veteran is one of the protesters). They're people who put on an air show, and corporately they're known as "Salute to Veterans." That's far from the same thing, and the shortcut that gets you there needs to have a big "DANGER: BRIDGE OUT" sign posted at the exit.

The second one's not quite as silly but a bit more worrisome. It's sort of like referring to the Republican Guard's Hammurabi Division as "the Republicans." Before long, somebody's going to start thinking you're deliberately dishonest, rather than just clueless:

Fatah fighters defy warning

Militants at refugee camp told to surrender or face onslaught

No. "Fatah" (a reverse acronym for Palestine Liberation Movement that conveniently also means "opening") is a secular (though predominantly Sunni) Palestinian nationalist movement
that's busily duking it out with its own Islamists for political leadership in the Palestinian terrorities. The folks in this story seem to call themselves "Fatah al-Islam." Moving Fatah north (jeez, is it really 1982 again?) and declaring it "al-Qaida-inspired" is the sort of card-stacking that's best left for Fox and its ancillary bottom-feeders.

If the problem with U.S. Mideast policy is that we don't know the actors and can't be bothered to buy a scorecard, maybe journalism should stop being ... what do they call it, part of the problem? Yeah, that'd be nice.


Anonymous Adam said...

As soon as I saw stories starting to run about Fatah Islam, I knew something like this was going to happen.

7:40 PM, May 25, 2007  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home