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Thursday, May 05, 2005

So maybe they have editors, after all

When I first read the CNN story about the explosions at the British consulate in New York about two hours ago, it included a sentence pretty much like this:
The consulate is on Third Avenue, between 51st and 52nd streets, police said.
Police said??? You've got a photographer and reporters, you've got the Internet--why do you have to report the consulate's location as just something alleged by the cops?

Well, I was too much in a hurry to rant about this then, and I'm somewhat relieved to see that someone has done a little research in the past couple of hours. The sentence now reads:
The consulate is on the 9th and 10th floors of the building at 845 Third Avenue, between 51st and 52nd streets.
Of course, that raises another question about CNN's reporting--their headline states "Blasts at UK Consulate in NYC," not "Blasts at building housing UK Consulate and other offices." While probably the most likely target, given that today is election day in Britain, Mayor Bloomberg's take on it has some merit:
"It is true the British Consulate is in that building, but I don't think anybody should jump to conclusions," Bloomberg told reporters at the scene in midtown Manhattan.
These years of blogging have definitely taught me not to trust the media, especially the headlines. CNN was ridiculously cautious about presenting an easily verifiable fact way down in the body of the article, but their headline screams clearly something which isn't exactly right. From the headline, I was picturing a stately mansion with iron gates and stiff guards and a brass plaque, not a multi-use high-rise office building with the consulate offices nine stories up. But I'll bet that the headline version is all that most people will get today.

CNN's main web page adds to the hype, since there is a smaller headline saying "Other strikes on UK diplomatic posts." My initial reaction was "oh, it's part of one of those al-Qaeda like multiple attacks." But that article only refers to attacks on British embassies and consulates in recent years, not today. So, from what I can gather so far, CNN's headline should be more like what the NY Times has on its main web page: "Two small explosives shattered glass but caused no injuries early this morning at the building housing the British Consulate on Third Avenue."