Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gee, this looks like a story too

It certainly did to the Beeb, which updated this version most recently at around 3:30p on Wednesday:

Israel has passed a message to Syria that it would withdraw from the Golan Heights in return for peace, according to a Syrian government minister.

Funny, it seems to have looked like a story to the AP as well. This one's from about 6:30p Wednesday:

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- A Cabinet minister said Wednesday that Israel has passed a message to Syria saying it is prepared to return the Golan Heights in exchange for a peace treaty.

Israeli officials declined to comment on the report, but the message could be a sign of progress in back-channel contacts that the two nations have reported in recent days.

No need to tear up the front page just yet. This isn't even the beginning of the beginning, let alone a formula for dissolving four decades of political, security and economic tangles (HEADSUP-L recommends the chardonnay). But when this much of this sort of signaling is going on this publicly, the cats fighting under the blanket are probably up to something pretty interesting. Why doesn't it seem to have gotten anyone's attention, given that Syria is -- oh, sort of salient in the news today?

It's not that the media are ignoring the "Mideast peace process"; Jimmy Carter certainly got a lot of coverage on his recent visit. I think the problem is that wire editors aren't paid to connect the dots anymore. Maybe "connect" is the wrong term; "find and publish enough dots so a regular reader can make sense of the next day's developments" is more like it. That requires space to publish the dots, but it also requires time to think about them and some sense of what dots do and don't look like.

No wonder the world looks confusing. We don't just show it out of context, we show it as if there was no context at all.


Blogger Andy Bechtel said...

I had an assistant managing editor once tell me that Mideast stories are rarely big news because "they are all incremental."

9:16 AM, April 25, 2008  

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