Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BBC: Pravda For The Electronic Age

There's an old Cold War joke about a drunken diplomatic party in some Third World country. The British ambassador is challenged to a race by his Soviet counterpart, which he then wins. Pravda reported the events thus: 'In a race between ambassadors yesterday, the Soviet ambassador came second, while the British ambassador was second from last.'

There's more than a hint of that style of reporting in this BBC report:
Danish arrests after youth riots

More than 20 people have been arrested in Denmark following eight consecutive nights of youth rioting and vandalism across the country, police say.
Dang! Those pesky yoots again! What's wrong with kids today ?

But wait... by the time we get to paragraph four, we get this:
It is not clear what triggered the riots. Reports say the youths - mainly with immigrant backgrounds - have been accusing police of harassment.
Immigrants ? But from where ?

Nope - we need to wait two more paragraphs before we get this:
Some observers say last week's reprinting by Danish newspapers of a cartoon satirising the Prophet Muhammad might have fuelled the riots.
Well, y'know, we'd know if that was true or not if we knew who was rioting...

The BBC can't even leave it there, managing one last kick at the idea of journalistic ethics:
The publication came a day after Denmark's security services arrested three Muslims suspected of plotting to kill one of the cartoonists.
Say, what a coincidence! It's almost like cause & effect, right ? Some kind of protest against thuggish attempts to muzzle the press.

Oops, apparently not - that interpreation would kind of cut the legs from under the Islamopaths claim to victimhood, so down the memory hole it goes.

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