Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Ignatius: "Iran's actions add fuel to Middle East saga"

I seem to be making a career of reading columns twice. Here's another case where the Courier editors, through selective editing and a creative headline, have managed to substantially alter the writer's point.

The original column is titled "15 Britons in a Sea of Intrigue" (free registration required). The roughly 300 words that the Courier left out -- "for space considerations," mind -- include more direct thinking on how Iran's radical Revolutionary Guard may be subverting its own government to create an international crisis and protect its interests. These are not "Iran's actions," as the Courier would have us believe, implying official action, but rather quite the opposite. There's description of how Iran is working diplomatically to resolve the problem, as well as a juicy connection to Israel's Mossad as provocateur that Ignatius turned up but the Courier didn't find interesting.

It is Revolutionary Guard, by the way, not Guards. The Courier slot laboriously changed every reference to the organization's proper name from singular to plural, as if Ignatius meant to refer to individual people rather than a military unit. This is just dumb. My gad, people, you're buying stuff from the Washington Post! Do you really think you're better editors than they are?

Parting shot, Tim: Changing "He is a former deputy defense minister" to "He was a former deputy defense minister" is rock-ignorant -- unless he's dead. Nice move.

Compare the original to the Courier's version.

Update, Apr 5, 3pm: Im just listening to a BBC report on the release of the sailors, in which PM Tony Blair is carefully pointing out that various actors within the Iranian hierarchy seem to be operating independently. This may be a diplomatic move, and it may be an admission that he's been a little too harsh with the Iranian government. In any case it backs up what Ignatius was saying.


Coyote Radio said...

Oooh, taking a pot shot at Tim's use of style book! Dude, seriously, Tim has fire-arms. Gun control advocacy is not your friend in this instance.

Still your post points out the way "rip and read" journalism puts the reader at even more distance from a knowing source.

Steven Ayres said...

Thanks, Andy, I'll keep my head down. Just to be clear, honest errors don't bug me that much, it's when they go to extra trouble to stick errors in that really scorches my pop-tarts.

leftturnclyde said...

it seems to me that there is a serious breach of ethics here ..
I guess if we keep calling them on it maybe ..the allmighty will come down from the sky and smite them !.. but seriously perhaps the sources of theses stories will take notice and tell em to cut it out

Steven Ayres said...

I tried that -- I ratted them out to the WP over the Ellen Goodman column a couple of weeks ago. I haven't had a reply. Multiple complaints, on the other hand ....