Friday, August 04, 2006


The Lazy Journalists of Qana

The Real Ugly American has a fascinating story about the Qana massacre and the Media. It seems that many in the Media have not gotten the news that the number of casualties was downgraded to 28. Both the Lebanese Red Cross and Human Rights Watch have reported the downgraded number.

According to the
Human Rights Watch website, posted Wednesday, August 2nd:
"The initial estimate of 54 persons killed was based on a register of 63 persons who had sought shelter in the basement of the building that was struck, and rescue teams having located nine survivors. It now appears that at least 22 people escaped the basement, and 28 are confirmed dead, according to records from the Lebanese Red Cross and the government hospital in Tyre."
So how is the Media reporting this?

The two reports cited by Ugly American were the same day as the Human Rights Watch report (Washington Post) and two days before (ABC News).

On, there were two stories yesterday which referenced Qana. One referred to "an Israeli airstrike Sunday that killed dozens of civilians in Qana, Lebanon." The second was a paraphrasing of comments by the Malaysian Prime Minister, who supposedly called it "the attack on the Lebanese village of Qana on Sunday that killed 56 people, mostly women and children." Someone needs to inform the Prime Minister the number was revised downwards.

The Associated Press seems to have picked up the Human Rights Watch story sometime Thursday and added it to all of its updates, of which there were many.

The New York Times mentioned the Israeli Army's report that 29 civilians had been killed. They made no mention of the Human Rights Watch report.

Kudos to the Los Angeles Times, which not only reported it, but included the number in a headline today: "WARFARE IN THE MIDDLE EAST; Officials Say 28 Died in Qana, Not 54".

More kudos to the Chicago Tribune, which reported the story yesterday.

Then there is Reuters. They actually did a report on
Human Rights Watch "slamming" Israel. The irony here is that Reuters completely ignored the Human Rights Watch report of 28 dead: "...bombing of the Lebanese village of Qana in which 54 civilians died."

My point here is not to downplay what the Israelis did wrong in Qana. Rather, we need to keep an eye on Media critics. Media critics can be every bit as wrong as the Media they criticize.

In this case, Ugly American got it right, but he cited the wrong Media sources.

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