Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Just for the record: the problems of American editors writing headlines for the IHT

Just for the record, and as fairly reported, if not the lead the para of various articles, Sunday's rush assualt on an American forward operating base in Afghanistan killed the following people:

  • 9 American soldiers
  • 17-22 civilians in airsupport missions called in by the Americans less than 1 mile from their base
  • numerous Afghan soldiers and police
  • numerous insurgents

There was also a suicide bombing day that killed 25 people, 20 of them civilians, in southern Afghanistan.

This year may have been "the deadliest for allied troops in Afghanistan since the U.S. intervention in 2001. Casualties for American and allied troops in the last two months have been higher than those in Iraq in the same period."

But equally, "nearly 700 Afghan civilians were killed in the first five months of the year, a marked increase on previous years, United Nations officials have said."


Now, if the IHT wants to be a truly global newspaper, the headlines have to change.

Why always this approach?:

9 U.S. soldiers reported killed in Afghanistan

Why not

Up to 22 civilians killed in defence of U.S. base in Afghanistan

Same news, same news reports even: the problem for the IHT needs to be addressed by the subs in Paris writing headlines from a persistently and consistently American perspective.

This has always been a problem for the IHT, but if the NYT has global ambitions it has to harness the respect it has among its potential audience for its reach (see the previous post from www.rue89.com about today's newspaper) with a different prism through which to look when writing headlines.

I'm not advocating anti-Americanism, I am advocating writing headlines for the many potential readers of the IHT for whom the presence of the US soldiers in the base was perhaps the reason it was attacked, and for whom the death of at least double the number of civilians in their defence is of equal importance.

In fact all I am looking for is a little moral equivalency on the value of human life when writing headlines.

(Various sources from IHT:





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