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(Mis)interpreting the news – an editor’s perspective on tragedy


Some people’s reaction to tragedy is to weep.

I edit.

You might have noticed that I don’t usually get political on this site, mainly out of humility; I don’t understand enough to get involved in one side or the other.

This isn’t about politics, because I don’t know politics.

But what I do know is words.

What I do understand is grammar and the importance of using language precisely and accurately.  And the tragic consequences if you don’t.

Perhaps I’m just a writer and editor at heart, but I couldn’t help making a few corrections to the story of the funerals as told by Al-Jazeera.  I have taken the liberty of fixing a few things.

I think my edits make the article much better. 

Even better would have been if it hadn’t needed to be written at all.

Funeral held for slain Israeli settlers boys

Burials held for three young settlers 16-year-old boys who disappeared were kidnapped weeks ago as well as for [one, unrelated] Palestinian shot by Israeli forces.

[If you don’t mention who killed the Israeli boys, why are you pointing out who shot the Palestinian one? This is flawed parallel structure, and as an editor, I won’t stand for it.]

Israel has held funerals for buried three young settlers beloved boys found dead near Hebron in the Occupied West Bank Israel more than two weeks after they went missing were abducted.

[Many hundreds of] Thousands gathered for the burials of Gilad Shaar, 16, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, in the West Bank Israeli city of Modi'in [,home to the Biblical Maccabees,] on Tuesday.

The settlers children disappeared were abducted on June 12 while hitchhiking home from a religious school in Kfar Etzion, an illegal settlement between Bethlehem and Hebron school, as millions of kids do every day without incident, probably guaranteed somewhere in the U.N.’s Rights of the Child, and were last heard in a brief heartbreaking emergency call to police.

Their bodies were found heartlessly dumped near the West Bank Muslim Arab [just a coincidence, folks!] village of Halhoul on Monday night.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has blamed the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas for the killings, spoke of the "murderers who with endless cruelty and without the blink of an eye, violated the ancient order not to raise a hand against a boy".

Netanyahu has already vowed the group would pay for the deaths. Speaking before [the extra word here was just their mistake; probably non-malicious] before Israel's security cabinet convened for a second time in two days, he said that Israel "must strike hard at Hamas people and infrastructure in the West Bank" and would weigh further attacks to prevent rocket fire from Gaza on southern Israel.

Palestinian [also, but unrelatedly] mourned

Meanwhile [in a completely unrelated event inserted here to distract from the main event], hundreds of Palestinians mourned the death on Tuesday of a 19-year-old Palestinian man shot dead [redundant; if it’s his funeral, we know already] by Israeli forces unmurdered Israeli teenage soldiers who have during a raid in Jenin Refugee Camp in the occupied territory Israel, [which was founded in 1953 by the Arab nation of Jordan to house their fellow Arabs to whom they refused citizenship, creating a brutal breeding zone for terror which has spawned more suicide bombers and militant attacks than any other Palestinian city].

This article continues in this vein, devoting nearly 400 words to injustices caused by Israel – with under 200 spared for the three teens in an article allegedly about their funerals.  Honestly, any decent editor would have chopped it after Netanyahu’s statement.

Let’s all be editors and take our red pens to terror wherever we are.  If you read a newspaper report that twists reality so badly it threatens to break, write to them, cancel your subscription, leave a comment – do something.

A couple of sites that can help:

1 comment:

I'd love to hear what you have to say.