Since Day 1 of this here blog, or soon thereafter, your GetReligionistas have reminded all readers infuriated by headlines that reporters rarely, if ever, get to write these punchy, essential graphic introductions to their stories.
Mad about a headline? Take it to an editor.
But what about Twitter messages that — in an attempt to create heat that inspires online clicks — actually twist or mangle the contents of a news story? Who is to blame, when there is confusion in the cloud of digital media that now surrounds essential, core news stories?
That happened the other day in the wake of the tragic terrorist attack on the famous Christmas marketplace in Strasbourg, France. We will get to the actual story in a second. But first, here is the content of the tweet “from” The New York Times that started a mini-storm on Twitter.
It Remains Unclear What Motivated The Gunman Who Opened Fire At A Christmas Market In Strasbourg, Officials Said, As The Police Continue An Intensive Search For The Attacker
So what is the problem?
Some readers found it strange that there was confusion — at the Times or anywhere else — about the motives of an attacker who shouted “Allahu akbar!” while attempting to commit a massacre in a Christmas market. Many thought that this seemed like a rather strange editorial judgement.
Ah, but what did the actual story say? Did the actual editorial product published by the Gray Lady say what this tweet says that it said?
That brings us to the story under the headline, “France Declares Strasbourg Shooting an Act of Terrorism.” Here is the overture:
STRASBOURG, France — The deadly shooting at a crowded Strasbourg street market was an act of terrorism, officials said …, as hundreds of police officers hunted the fugitive assailant, a man described as a radicalized hometown career criminal.
The gunman killed at least two people and wounded 12 in the … shooting spree at the famous Christmas market in Strasbourg, a city of more than a quarter-million in France’s northeast border with Germany.
Rémy Heitz, the Paris prosecutor, who handles terrorism investigations nationwide, said at a news conference in Strasbourg that witnesses had heard the attacker yell “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great” in Arabic, and that the targets and the suspect’s profile justified the opening of a terrorism investigation.
Any sign of an editorial statement swooping in from left field?