Media Blog

Get the Headline Right

Associated Press reporter Asif Shahzad reporting:

17 former Guantanamo inmates freed in Pakistan; 6 claim Qur’an was desecrated
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) – Pakistanis freed from Guantanamo Bay claimed Monday they saw American interrogators throw, tear and stand on copies of Islam’s holy book, and one former detainee said naked women sat on prisoners’ chests during questioning.

That’s the lede. Here are the final three grafs:

Tahir Ashrafi, a religious affairs adviser for Punjab province, said the 17 men had been cleared by Pakistani intelligence agencies after thorough interrogation and “have not been found to be involved in any kind of terrorist activity.”
He said all the men signed statements saying they wouldn’t join any anti-state activity.
However, one of the freed men, Khalil-ur Rahman, 21, from the eastern town of Gujrat, said he wouldn’t hesitate to fight again. “If I get a chance to fight jihad again, I will definitely go. I will not miss it,” he said.

This is a good example of a news story constructed exactly backward with the wrong headline. The correct headline for this story is:

Detainee Freed From Guantanamo Bay Vows to Kill Again

Miss a chance to whip up more Anti-American hatred with a Koran desecration story? Asif.
UPDATE: Shahzad contributed to this sob story about the poor dears back in March.
UPDATE II: Read the story from Update I, then remind me why we’re letting these people go.
UPDATE III: The Washington Post picks up the story and snips off the bottom, making this nothing more than a story about Koran abuse based on the unsubstantiated allegations of six men who acknowledge having gone to Afghanistan to kill Americans.
UPDATE IV: The LA Times does it too.
UPDATE V: The Boston Globe does it too.
UPDATE VI: I was starting to wonder if the prevalence of stories that left out the part about the freed detainee vowing to kill more Americans meant that some alternate version of the story had gone out on the wires, but here’s a version in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that includes that part.
UPDATE VII: The New York Times runs its own Koran desecration allegations, from a recently freed detainee who never actually witnessed any desecration himself. I should change the category heading on this post to Press Patterns.

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