26 April '15..
For millions of people who spend a few seconds scanning the headlines of the New York Times, here is what they saw the other day:
While it is admittedly difficult to boil the essence of a news story into a few words, the Times failed miserably in this case. Did Israeli police officers stroll through a cafe and shoot dead two innocent people sipping coffee? Not at all. As the article points out, the men had attacked the officers with knives. The Israeli police officers were acting as any police officer anywhere in the world would act when attacked with a deadly weapon.
Yet for some inexplicable reason, whomever had the task of attaching a headline to the article decided that the most important thing for people to know was that Israeli police officers had killed Palestinians.
What makes it even stranger, is that the New York Times website also published an earlier version of the story by Reuters that had a similar headline but used the words “knife-wielding” before the word “Palestinians.” A day later the story appears under a Times byline with the words “knife-wielding” removed.
But the worst headline was reserved for the print edition of the Times. At the end of the online article, we see this note:
A version of this article appears in print on April 26, 2015, on page A10 of the New York edition with the headline: Palestinian Teenager Killed by Israeli Police.
Could the headline be any worse?
The AP story that ran in the Washington Post and elsewhere, used the headline:
Israeli Police: 2 Palestinians shot dead after knife attacks
This is better, but it would have been more accurate if they had gone all the way and made clear that the Palestinians attacked the police with the knives. Just to avoid any possible misunderstanding.
With just five words, “after attacking officers with knives,” they could have let those who skim headlines know what actually happened.
Would it have been so difficult?
Write to the New York Times Public Editor. Click here for details.
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