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Media Analyses





A Tale of Two LA Times Headlines: Attacks in West Bank, Paris


On Thursday, January 7, three Palestinians with knives attacked Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and were shot dead. The same day, a man brandishing a knife, wearing a fake explosives vest, and shouting "Allahu Akbar" attempted to enter a Paris police station and was shot dead.
 
Los Angeles Times headlines in the January 8 print edition  about these two similar incidents were remarkably different. The headline about the Paris attack was:
 
Slaying on anniversary of Charlie Hebdo attack; French police shoot a man in a suspect vest with a knife who yells 'Allahu akbar!' as he tries to enter a station (Emphasis added.)
The headline makes clear that the man in Paris who was shot dead was the would-be perpetrator of an attack. In contrast, let's take a look at The Times' headline for a brief news item about three Palestinian attackers who were shot dead:
WEST BANK: 3 Palestinians in assaults slain
Unlike the Paris headline which made clear that the killed man was an attacker, this headline, with its bizarre syntax, wrongly depicts the three Palestinian assailants who perpetrated stabbing attacks as the victims of attacks. Only those who bother to read past the headline to the first paragraph (and certainly this is not all readers, and probably not even most) learn:
Palestinians brandishing knives attacked Israeli soldiers in two incidents in the West Bank before forces opened fire, killing three assailants, the military said, in the latest violence in almost four months of near-daily Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers.

The Israeli military said three Palestinians wielding knives rushed at troops at the Gush Etzion junction near Jerusalem, prompting the soldiers to open fire, killing two of them. The third attacker was wounded and taken to a hospital.

About two hours later, a Palestinian tried to stab soldiers near the West Bank city of Hebron before he was shot and killed by forces, the military said.

Notably, The Times brief about the Palestinian attacks was drawn from an Associated Press article and AP's original headline accurately and clearly stated: "Israel army: 3 Palestinians killed after attacking soldiers."

By the twisted formulation of the LA Times headline on the Palestinian attacks, the headline for last week's attack about the Paris police station would have said: "PARIS: Muslim in assault slain."

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