Thursday, December 07, 2006

ABC + Reuters = Misleading in General

This is the latest Reuters photo that ABC News Online is showing on its Middle East Conflict section:

Check out the caption. Notice the words "a general view".

There are two possible meanings to the caption:

1. this is the general view of the "barrier" only for the section near Abu Dis, or

2. this is a general view of the "barrier", and the photographer just happened to choose a point near Abu Dis to take the photograph.

It is unlikely to be the first since use of the word "general" for a very small section of the "barrier" seems awkward. It is like saying "a general view of the earth seen through an electron microscope".

It therefore is more likely to be the second. And that would make the caption misleading, since around 5% of the "barrier" is a concrete wall, and 95% is chain-link fence, as stated in Section VI of this document. It is not a general view at all. Read more about the fence here or here.

Could this be the first time the ABC has chosen to focus on a small minority and infer that it is the general case?

In the spirit of the ABC and Reuters, here is my attempt at being an ABC online editor:

A general view of the American countryside, near Wall St in Manhattan, New York

And, given ABC's lack of context and coverage, you were wondering what its purpose was:

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