June 07, 2007

Those Wonderful Layers of Professional Editorial Oversight...

... have blown it yet again. From AFP's lede this morning (my bold):

One Palestinian was killed on Thursday as deadly clashes between rival Fatah and Hamas gunmen erupted for the first time in the Gaza Strip since the latest truce came into effect nearly three weeks ago.


I guess this nearly three-hour assault by an estimated 50-100 Hamas gunmen on Fatah's "key Presidential Guard position" just two days ago doesn't count:

Hamas and Fatah forces fought a major gun battle on Tuesday in the Gaza Strip near the Karni commercial crossing, the most serious flare-up in factional fighting in two weeks.

An officer with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Presidential Guard said a "large number" of Hamas fighters attacked a key Presidential Guard position near the crossing, wounding at least one guard member.

Or is AFP keying on the distinction "deadly," implying that if no one dies, then the violence doesn't count?

Perhaps the new AFP standard is "no body/no battle."

Somehow, I don't think that is quite accurate.

Update: Is "No Blood, no Foul" the new media standard for reporting combat? Or is it an old standard I'm just noticing?

Reuters is only slightly better than AFP in their reporting of the most recent outbreak of violence in the Gaza Civil War:

Rival Hamas and Fatah forces clashed in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing at least one person and injuring 12 others, in the worst flare-up of factional fighting in almost three weeks.

Like AFP, Reuters doesn't seem to consider Tuesday's three-hour battle worth noting as a serious fight. They seem to be of the opinion that the number of casualties that can be noted determines the seriousness of the conflict.

While casualties can be used to a certain extent to determine the severity of a battle, it should hardly be the only criteria, and is completely devoid of any tactical or strategic gains made by one side or the other. As it currently stands, we don't know if either side gained a strategic or tactical advantage in either of these two engagements, because neither news organization is providing that depth of coverage.

By their apparent casualty-only standard, the D-Day invasion of Normandy (where Allied forces suffered an estimated 10,000 casualties, including 2,500 dead, and the Germans suffered between 4,000-9,000 casualties), was far less important than the battle of Iwo Jima, where American forces suffered 27,909 casualties (including 8,226 combat-related deaths) and the Japanese lost more than 20,000 killed.

I don't think any sane person would dare make that argument.

Both battles were extremely costly and important for different reasons, and yet, the apparent criteria in use by these media organizations would make Iwo Jima the far more important battle based on casualty figures alone.

Casualty figures are an important indication of the scale of a battle or conflict, but they are only one indicator... unless someone is willing to argue that the inconclusive Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in May of 1864 where Lee inflicted nearly over 18,000 casualties and nearly 3,000 dead on Grant's Army will be judged as historically important to Americans as the first several years of the Iraq War.

I'm not willing to buy that flawed line of reasoning.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at June 7, 2007 08:05 AM