Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hed, meet story

It's sort of a cardinal rule of headline writing. You can condense, you can highlight, you can frame, you can select, but you have to condense something that's actually in the text. You can't just make something up and use it to draw people into your story. That's called false advertising -- or, if you prefer, "lying."

And, as usual, we have a handy example from Fox, which uses the hed above ("Critics blast Obama's West Bank trip") to tease to this AP story:

JERUSALEM — Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama toured Israel’s Holocaust memorial Wednesday, laying a wreath in memory of the 6 million Jews who died and saying, “Ultimately, this is a place of hope.”

There's a little bit, beginning at the 11th graf, about Obama's West Bank visit, but nothing about any critics, or any blasting. (Perhaps Fox was thinking of the op-ed pages of the "liberal" "media," wherein the usual Krauthammer-Thomas choir is in full song). About as close as anyone comes is this:

But most Palestinians believe the U.S. is so irrevocably biased toward Israel that it will make little difference whether the next president is Democrat Obama or Republican John McCain, said pollster Jamil Rabbah. He offered no poll in support of that view.

Interesting bit of facticity from the AP there. Wonder why that was so important to point out?

Many people in Israel are concerned that Obama — a first-term U.S. senator with little foreign policy experience — would push Israel too hard in negotiations with the Palestinians.

And does AP have any polls to support that view? Or is some conventional wisdom just too wise to question?

You get the impression that the Israelis and the Palestinians have both been paying rather close attention to both the bold outlines and the nuances of what the candidates say about the Near East. It'd be nice if one could have that sort of confidence in AP campaign writers, wouldn't it?

3 Comments:

Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Hey - they gotta get it in someplace - if it's not in the story, where else can it go?

10:23 PM, July 24, 2008  
Blogger Denise said...

I'm curious to hear your thoughts about some papers' (my own included) decision to run the article including the text of Obama's prayer on the Western Wall, which a Jewish newspaper found (stole) and printed. I don't know too much about the tradition, but I gather it's supposed to be something secret and private. Not that a candidate is necessarily entitled to privacy. . .but isn't he? I mean, the MSM lays off his daughters, fawning People profile aside. I thought it was just in bad taste.

5:12 PM, July 26, 2008  
Blogger fev said...

The prayer thing strikes me as one of those amazingly irrelevant cases in which newspapers allow themselves to be led around by the nose for no very good reason.

We do a lot of stuff in journalism that's rude and can't be avoided, but going around and picking the prayers out of the wall strikes me as unnecessary rudeness. Of course, that decision was up to Ma'ariv, which (shock!) didn't call here to ask first, but what I do with my own dead pine trees is up to me. So if the question is "Should we burn valuable space on something irrelevant just because somebody else has bad manners and worse news judgment?", my answer is -- gee, not really.

Kind of a pity Obama didn't pull some strings and get to spend some time on the Mount/Haram itself. Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock are pretty impressive too, and he would have sent a really interesting signal to the home front. Not to mention blowing out every fusebox in the moronosphere. But I digress.

10:35 PM, July 26, 2008  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home