Wednesday, January 05, 2005

It's not just black and white, if I may coin a phrase, as any neutral would attest

This story is fascinating. Check out the first paragraph: (Reuters) - Feisty New York lawyer Lynne Stewart is being prosecuted on hyped-up terror charges to destroy her career of defending unpopular clients including a militant Muslim cleric convicted of plotting to bomb U.S. targets, her attorney argued on Wednesday. And how the first paragraph was truncated in Google News' summary: (Reuters) - Feisty New York lawyer Lynne Stewart is being prosecuted on hyped-up terror charges to destroy her career of defending unpopular clients including a militant Muslim cleric. I suppose Reuters is probably just committed to a punchy, top-heavy sentence structure, and has no intention to imply editorial opinion to those only casually scanning the page. But it does point to at least the implication of implication. "Her attorney argued" is a qualifier that places the entire first sentence into the realm of (technically) strictly factual reporting - yet still manages to give a sympathetic tone to the defendant, in officiously hyperbolizing the charges through her defense's voice. Yes, it's reporting, but more than anything it's giving her lawyer a favourable mouthpiece - and I wouldn't have even noticed except for Google News' accidentally inappropriate abridgement. What liberal media? Oh, right.

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