Monday, October 22, 2007

Location, location, location

Just like real estate, the location of facts in a press report matters. The better the location, the more it's worth. The following item appeared in a 27-paragraph Associated Press story filed from Baghdad on October 21:
"U.S. troops backed by attack aircraft killed 19 suspected insurgents and 15 civilians, including nine children, in an operation Oct. 11 targeting al-Qaida in Iraq leaders northwest of Baghdad.

"Al-Maliki's government said those killings were a 'sorrowful matter,' but emphasized that civilian deaths are unavoidable in the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq."

Quiz: Where in the story did this information appear? In the lead, just like the coverage of civilian deaths in the September 16 incident, in which Blackwater guards said they thought their convoy was under terrorist attack? No, the above passages are buried at the end of the AP story: Paragraphs 26 and 27.

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