The Associated Press announced a change in their style guide: The wire service will no longer refer to "illegal immigrants," except in direct quotes. The change is a victory for activists who have called for years for journalists to stop using the term.
An Israeli airstrike on Gaza yesterday is being reported as a breach of the cease-fire agreement that was reached after violence last November between the Israeli military and Hamas forces. But the new accounts are misleading: They give the impression that Israel hasn't regularly violated the agreement already.
On the 102nd anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, Janine Jackson's article in the last issue of Extra! (3/13) is a sobering reminder that not that much has changed in the last century as far as worker safety is concerned: What should be done to prevent incidents like the January 26 fire at the Smart Fashion Export factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in which at least seven garment workers (three of them teenage girls) were killed, their escape impeded by a blocked exit and the absence of the most rudimentary fire safety equipment? The answer for many would be: whatever is […]
It's bad enough to treat a unsubstantiated claim by a partisan news outlet, with a record of sensational misinformation on the same subject, as a relevant fact in a story. But how do you justify using this junk journalism as a chance to let a source give free rein to his fantasies of how Occupy might take a turn towards violence?
Crack open USA Today (11/28/12) and you saw this headline: Diagram Suggests Iran Working on Bomb The story was short–short enough for a careful reader to see that it in no way lived up to that alarmist headline. But the piece still tried really hard to frighten people. Here's the lead: Iranian scientists have run computer simulations for a nuclear weapon that would produce more than triple the explosive force of the World War II bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, according to a diagram obtained by the Associated Press. The diagram was leaked by officials from a country critical of Iran's atomic program […]
As a general rule, it'd be better if media accounts of war did not stress the surgical precision of the weapons being used. It's a fixture of U.S. reporting on U.S. wars, but the same rhetoric is used when U.S. allies are dropping bombs. According to Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen (11/19/12): Israel has gone out of its way to avoid civilian casualties. Its air force has used new, highly accurate ammunition aiming for rocket-launching sites and government installations. For the most part, it has succeeded. Aron Heller of the Associated Press (11/17/12) had this description of the Israeli military: Israel, […]
After Syrian mortar fire from Syria's civil war reportedly strayed into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights last weekend, some U.S. journalists seemed confused about the political geography of the region. For instance, CBS Evening News reported (11/12/12) reported: Syria's civil war has now touched Israel. For the second straight day, a shell from Syria landed in Israeli territory. Well, no. The shells in question landed on the Golan Heights, a part of Syria that has been occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967–but is internationally recognized as continuing to be Syrian territory. A CNN Wire report, "For Second Time in […]
One of the problems with media "factchecking" is the notion that all things must be "checked" equally. If you factcheck a Republican and find three whoppers, your fact check of a Democrat better work real hard to find a comparable level of spin or dishonesty. Which is exactly how Associated Press reporters Matt Apuzzo and Tom Raum approached Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic convention last night. Clinton's speech–along with others–"either cherry-picked facts or mischaracterized the opposition." But their first example is extraordinarily weak. They quote Clinton talking about the difference between Obama and Republican leadership when it comes to […]
In an attempted factcheck of Mitt Romney's acceptance speech at the Republican convention, AP's Calvin Woodward (8/30/12) takes on Romney's big laugh line: President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family. Woodward looked into it and found that, indeed, Obama had said something like that. But aren't the important factual questions here whether ocean levels actually are rising, and if so whether it's possible to do anything about them? (The answers are "yes" and "yes," as it turns out.) The Washington Post […]