Gauging bias in news headlines – 244 days

Today, the Israelis rescued four hostages from captivity in Gaza. This is not what this blog posting is about.

The New York Times headline reads “Israel’s Military Says It Rescued Four Hostages.” This is poorly written and shows clear bias. It can be termed propaganda. It is simpler to write “Israel’s Military rescues four hostages”. If there is any question about the veracity of the statement, why doesn’t the editorial staff take the time to check? Or just wait until confirmation of the story. Is it because a military spokesman announced the news?

officials say...
officials say…

Other news outlets printed similar headlines.

NBC News: “Israeli military rescues four hostages alive from Gaza, including Noa Argami” Simple, factual.

Fox News: “Israel rescues 4 hostages kidnapped by Hamas” Simple, factual.

Washington Post: “Four hostages rescued alive in Gaza operation that killed at least 125, officials say” Obtuse, unclear. Who are the officials — are they US, Israeli, UN? Who killed the 125?

BBC: “Four hostages seized at Nova music festival freed in Gaza raid” Simple, factual.

Why doesn’t anyone report that they had been kidnapped for 244 days (or was it 243)? This is an important fact that clearly adds to the story. It is an inference that any reporter worth his salt can make. All it requires is a calendar.

244 days is a long time.

245 days
245 days

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