Gimme Rewrite! Newsspeak = Newspeak

From Reuters Fri Aug 26  2011  9:47 GMT:  “SOMALI MILITANTS BEHEAD BOYS IN MOGADISHU ATTACKS”

From Merriam-Webster Free Online Dictionary:

definition of MILITANT

1
: engaged in warfare or combat : fighting
2
: aggressively active (as in a cause) : combative <militant conservationists> <a militant attititude
The story gives an account of one boy who was kidnapped, and turned up the next day beheaded in the local livestock  market and goes on to report a spate of such killings recently.  Snatching and decapitating unarmed teens is certainly not combat, but I suppose you could characterize lopping off heads as being “aggressively active.”

Examples of MILITANT

  1. an angry and militant speech
  2. political radicals with a militant unwillingness to compromise on any issue

Well, sure, beheading does indicate a certain intransigence.

Definition of ATTACK

1
: the act of attacking with physical force or unfriendly words : assault
2
: a belligerent or antagonistic action
3
a : a fit of sickness; especially : an active episode of a chronic or recurrent disease b : a period of being strongly affected by something (as a desire or mood)

Well, okay, head-taking certainly would fall under the legal category of assault, and whoever did this most certainly got up in the morning feeling more than a little belligerent.

Then lost his head, so to speak.

And even definitions 3a and b work,since these guys definitely have a strong desire  to sever skulls, and do it repeatedly,

Now, this really isn’t funny: neither the actions themselves, which bad as they are, can be expected from the quarter whence they come.  What is worse is this kind of reporting which day after day reduces horrors to the mundane, and eventually banal, and sanitizes evil as savagery is called militancy in a cause.  It as if Holocaust histories were written without those grainy photos of heaped corpses, and instead used MSexcel generated graphs.

Here’s how they might have done it i the old days when there were no journalism schools, and reporters wore fedoras, smoked cigars and yelled “gimme rewrite” just before deadline.

“Islamic terror leaves headless kids across war torn Mogadishu.”

A more uptown approach might have been something on the order of:

“As Al Shabab Islamists emulate the barbarism  their prophet founder, Muhammed, first demonstrated against the Jews of Khaybar in the Seventh Century, the headless corpse of Qadar Omar Siyad, 19, was found among trash and offal in the city’s cattle market.  He was the latest victim in a string of brutal murders of young boys over the last few weeks.”

Note the parenthetical historical context, of the sort most reports on such actions in the Islamic world never contain.  This would refer later to a wrap up paragraph showing that beheading is inherent in Islamic texts and actions, across regions and history.

Not bad as a lead in, if I do say so myself. “Trash and offal” set the scene economically,  in a sensory manner.  You can smell the filth and see the flies, and this boy’s body given no more consideration than the waste of the slaughter house.

The story writes itself from there.  I learned this stuff in high school.  What they appear to learn in journo school these days is a a kind of etiolated prose that fills column inches, but sucks away meaning, so that “news providers” have become a self reinforcing constellation of ministries of truth, a gulag archipelago for language from which truth rarely escapes, with nary a Winston Smith or Solzhenitsyn among the workers  feeding the memory hole.

Gimme rewrite.

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2 thoughts on “Gimme Rewrite! Newsspeak = Newspeak

  1. NO HEAD, HE’S DEAD

    In addition to intercepting relief supplies and thus using famine as a political tool, Islamists in the Sudan have taken atrocity to a disgustingly new low level. Beheading children.

    • Very effective use of sentence fragment in the longer header. A complex sentence with subordinate clauses, and then a brief and shocking statement. Nice! But then, we went to real high schools.

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