September 06, 2004


From the Sydney Morning Herald’s early Saturday coverage of the Beslan school atrocity:

As hostages took their chance to flee, the militants opened fire on them ...

And from an SMH piece filed later that day:

Captive children and parents fled for their lives. From the rooftops the terrorists fired into their backs.

Mark Steyn has more.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 6, 2004 02:10 PM

If this is supposed to be a dig at the Sydney Morning Herald, then it's a bit misguided.

The first story was pulled straight from the AP feed. You can see how widely it was published by conducting an appropriate Google News search.

The second construction was the Herald's own, as another Google News search demonstrates.

Posted by: Robert at September 6, 2004 at 02:32 PM

Mark Steyn is spot-on. To me, it seems that much of the Muslim world is where the Christian one was hundreds of years ago.

While a majority Christian country like the US looks upon extremists like David Koresh as the bizarre freaks that they are, Muslims seem to be unable to see other Muslims through anything but rose-coloured glasses, no matter how outrageous they are.

(For the moonbats frothing at the mouth after reading this, I'm agnostic, btw, so am not promoting a new crusade, etc)

Posted by: Mr. T at September 6, 2004 at 02:34 PM

Running an article straight from an AP feed is bad journalism.

Associated Press has been reporting untruths as if they were fact. Their coverage of the Prseidential campaign has been biased even when it hasn't been outright wrong.

If the Age was a respectable paper, it wouldn't use those feeds.

Posted by: EvilPundit at September 6, 2004 at 02:49 PM

The crux of Steyn's argument:

'If you want your religion to be more than a diseased death cult, you're going to have to take a stand.'

Hear, hear.

Posted by: ilibcc at September 6, 2004 at 02:52 PM


As I wrote, the first piece was from the Herald's COVERAGE. The second piece was, as you've noted - and as I wrote - a Herald PIECE.

Maybe I should've run the headline "SMH DEMONSTRATES, AT LAST, ABILITY TO RE-WRITE CRAP WIRE COPY APPROPRIATELY" just to make things that much clearer to you.

Posted by: tim at September 6, 2004 at 02:58 PM

What's in a noun or two? Sometimes the sum of our civilization.

Posted by: charlotte at September 6, 2004 at 04:06 PM

I followed this on satellite news coverages until 3am Oz-time and heard one interviewee (on the BBC I think) refer once to Chechan "freedom-fighters". Mind-boggling!

Posted by: graboy at September 6, 2004 at 04:10 PM

there is plenty of fuel as regards selective SMH headlines. Previously, there has been "Vanstone flags appeal", despite Vanstone saying twice in the (small) article that she had not read the report and as such had not made a decision.

Today we have "'School terrorist' paraded on TV". Maybe its just me. Though knowing the SMH, the terrorist in italics and the word paraded have a certain sneer quality about them.

Posted by: nic at September 6, 2004 at 07:03 PM

I think this is the most telling point in Steyn's piece:

When your asymmetrical warfare strategy depends on gunning down schoolchildren, you're getting way more asymmetrical than you need to be. The reality is that the IRA and ETA and the ANC and any number of secessionist and nationalist movements all the way back to the American revolutionaries could have seized schoolhouses and shot all the children.

But they didn't. Because, if they had, there would have been widespread revulsion within the perpetrators' own communities. To put it at its most tactful, that doesn't seem to be an issue here.

No solution to the worldwide problems posed by militant Islam is possible without a more vigorous attempt by Islamic moderates (who I assume comprise the vast majority) to root out the vile cancer that has transformed the perception of their religion. More than condemnation is needed to do this

Posted by: rexie at September 6, 2004 at 07:04 PM

Steyn's prejudices are showing again.
The ira have murdered school children.
The anc's "necklacing" seemed to be acceptable to its own "community".
Some reports say the Beslen terrorists were not Arabs.

Posted by: Observer at September 6, 2004 at 10:10 PM

The SMH called terrorists, terrorists?

If I'm dreaming, don't wake me up.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at September 6, 2004 at 10:51 PM

If you can demonstrate that the first item of "coverage" appeared in print, then you might have a point. All you've got is that you disagree with the AP piece, and that the SMH runs breaking AP feeds on its website until it has time to rewrite them.

Where's your criticism of Fox News, which uses the terms "hostage" and "militant" after rewriting the feeds:

The militants who stormed the school Wednesday had threatened to blow it up if Russian forces launched an assault to free the hostages — but there was no sign that any operation or battle was underway.

Posted by: Robert at September 7, 2004 at 01:08 AM

Observer--point me to the article where the IRA took over a whole school of school and shot them in the back. I can't remember this incident. Also, I don't recall as how the ANC necklaced a school full of children. Please link. Thank you.

Posted by: ushie at September 7, 2004 at 01:17 AM

So Robert doesn't pedant me to death, I meant "whole school of schoolchildren." And yes, I know parents and teachers were also shot in the back.

Also killed with explosives. Also some were raped. Don't pedant me, Robert.

Posted by: ushie at September 7, 2004 at 01:19 AM

Sooner or later, even the most determined of leftoid journalists have to sit up and take notice that these are not your standard, propaganda-about-loving-freedom "militants". These are savages who want only one thing: death for everyone who isn't them. The bloodier the better.

Posted by: Rebecca at September 7, 2004 at 02:37 AM

Come on, Ushie. Tim's post was pedantic, so I'm entitled to be pedantic back. FWIW, I agree with your characterisation of the Chechen terrorists, and with the distinction between them and the IRA/ANC.

Posted by: Robert at September 7, 2004 at 04:32 AM

God forbid anyone even try to stop you from being pedantic, Robert.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 7, 2004 at 12:47 PM

This is awfully petty even for you Tim, you big spin-doctor you. If you want to call the SMH a bunch of terrorist-loving communists, go for it, but citing the use of the word "militant" instead of "terrorist" in a piece by an AP hack only makes you look the fool.

And how can you call someone on issues of imprecise language when you seem to think words like "coverage" and "piece" make clear the authorship of the articles you've cited?

As for EvilPundit's notion of what makes bad journalism... My jaw is still hanging open. Has anyone EVER read a newspaper and not found a wire story reproduced verbatim? For that matter, has EvilPundit ever read a newspaper?

Posted by: Karl at September 7, 2004 at 03:14 PM

Karl, if you can't stand what you read here, then why don't you go away?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 7, 2004 at 08:16 PM