Dec. 15, 2009 Note: The Edmonton Journal issued the following correction today:
Note: Following up on our recently dispatched communique (see below) entitled “Edmonton Journal Falsely Reports Israel Wounded 8 Palestinians” where we notified HRC members that the Edmonton Journal had issued a correction to remedy this error, we have had to again ask the Journal to issue a correction for an erroneous correciton (see image below) which falsely claimed that the 8 Palestinians were “killed” vs. actually being “wounded.”
Stay tuned for developments.
Edmonton Journal Falsely Reports Israel Wounded 8 Palestinian Medics
November 26, 2009
By: Mike Fegelman, Executive Director View this Article Online and Discuss on Headlines and Deadlines
Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscriber,
Copy editors are supposed to be the people who prevent mistakes, not make them.
In the newspaper industry, editors vet reports from their own staff writers while pulling content from international news wires such as Reuters, Associated Press (AP), and Agence France-Presse (AFP).
With respect to including newswire content, the job of an editor is pretty straightforward. Ensure that the report is factually accurate, compelling for its readership, and then simply edit the report for style, content, and size. The final and perhaps most important step for copy editors is to appropriate a headline designed to inform and encourage the reader to delve further into the article.
Headlines tend to be provocative, “punny”, and often times condensed to fit the challenging column inches that newspapers demand. With respect to headlines, in the fast-paced world we live in today, many people just scan through headlines instead of reading the body of the articles itself. Often times, it’s these headlines which through misleading tenses and incorrect terminology, colour the stories that they relate to thereby misinforming readers.
Case in point, a November 23 AFP article featured in the Edmonton Journal’s world news section carried the following headline: “Israeli airstrikes wound 8 medics“:
Contrary to this headline, the Israeli airstrikes on suspected weapons depots or “metal workshops” saw 8 Palestinians wounded (it’s unknown how many were combatants or civilians), not 8 Palestinian medics wounded. Even the body of this AFP article itself does not claim that 8 medics were wounded; only that 8 Palestinians were wounded according to medics on the scene.
We trusted that this was an innocent error on the part of Edmonton Journal editors, but with that said, the implications of this error were quite disturbing as it presented Israeli forces as targeting or at least injuring innocent Palestinian medical officials, whereas in reality, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were targeting terrorists and terror-related infrastructures in the Gaza Strip.
HonestReporting Canada brought this matter to the attention of senior editors at the Journal asking that in a means to remedy this error and to set the record straight, that the newspaper should issue a formal printed correction in the next edition of the paper along with amending the article online.
Yesterday, the Journal revised the online article and promptly and professionally featured the following correction on page A2 citing that this was an “unfortunate error by a copy editor”:
We commend the Journal for taking the appropriate steps to set the record straight, however we recognize that many readers will not notice this correction and many people who had originally read the erroneous headline will be left falsely believing that Israeli forces had injured “8 (Palestinian) medics”.
We trust that this incident will serve as a teachable moment for Journal editors for the need to be more vigilant in the editing process.
Putting Gilo in PerspectiveIsrael has recently come under international criticism over the approval for constructionof 900 housing units in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. Irrespective of one’s views on this policy, it’s the responsibility of the media to report on Gilo accurately and with the relevant context.
For more information on how the international media reported on the building plans for this Jerusalem suburb, please see HonestReporting.com’s communique “Gilo in Perspective”.
Additionally, please see the following letter to the editor from HonestReporting Canada germane to this subject as printed in the National Post on November 19: