It’s gone now

, but the little caption in a grey box on the main BBC news page linking to this story used to say something like “American troops in Iraq: giving out sweets by day, kicking in doors by night.” I’m not complaining about the story itself, but that caption somewhat gave the impression that the door-kicking was mere vandalism that the soldiers indulged in under cover of darkness. Actually the story says that doors are kicked down as part of military action, not indiscipline.

I’d put it down to chance or my own misreading, but these slightly “off” captions so often seem to mislead in the same direction.

ADDED LATER: Here’s another example of weird and misleading link text, spotted by Brian O’Connell. His example is almost a platonic BBC text, involving the misuse of quote marks, stealth editing and being plain wrong.

…it also demonstrates that the BBC does not get their ironical, dubious, so-some-mentally-ill-people-believe quotes from actual quotes, because there is no such quote in the article. Nor anything close. The headlines, scare quotes and all, come from headline writers whose choice of what to ironically quote represents their own views of what’s ironic, or dubious.

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17 Responses to It’s gone now

  1. Jane says:

    Off Topic, but I’m here to register for posterity yet another “Have Your Say” submission, which I know from experience will never see the light of day except on this blog.

    “Once again, the BBC Have Your Say team finds a way to turn a silly, trivial entertainment event into a global anti-American hatefest. Who knew that Janet Jackson’s boob was a metaphor for American gun laws? Get over it BBC. You are truly the most pathetic ‘news’ organization I have ever encountered. No one in the US is OUTRAGED at the Janet Jackson Superbowl incident. Some people may be offended, but no one is slitting their wrists about it at the breakfast table as you seem to imply. Your obsession with promoting anti-Americanism at every possible opportunity is nuttier than the Soviet press’s declaration that Mickey Mouse was an imperialist oppressor. You need help, badly. Yes, I know you will not publish this email, but thank God I can reproduce it over at Biased”


  2. Sonofhades says:

    I always thought that the headline needs to be provocative enough to cause people to raise their eyebrows and actually read the story. Of course, there are people whose skill at reading is limited to headlines… =)

    Well, in my dear country, a newspaper headline said “over 100 people killed in Iraq during November”. I guess they didn’t remember that Iraqis are also human beings, i.e. people. I would not still call that paper biased, but since the number of dead Iraqis was unknown, it was easier to make headline about the number of coalition soldiers killed and label them as “people”. Sex & Blood sell the news these days. Sigh…


  3. steve jones says:

    > No one in the US is OUTRAGED at the Janet Jackson Superbowl incident.


    > Yes, I know you will not publish this email,

    Are you surprised? It reads like the rantings of a lunatic. What has Janet Jackson got to do with Mickey Mouse, the Soviet Union, or slitting wrists?


  4. Anonymous says:

    Notice the image caption “Mr Nice Guy, or Mr Nasty?”

    So… giving out sweets – Mr Nice Guy – kicking down doors in anti-terror operations – Mr Nasty. Subtle eh?


  5. Rob Read says:

    Mr Nasty was for handing out sweets, and aiding the american imperialist candy manufacturers in recruiting some more addicts.

    And for those with sarcasm detection problems…
    /sarcasm off.


  6. Jane says:

    Yes, steve jones, Gary Younge is SUCH an accurate, unbiased expert on American politics and culture. How typical to defend the BBC by citing a GUARDIAN article!

    You must be too young to remember the Cold War. The Soviet media was notorious for picking up any aspect of American society and blowing it up hysterically out of proportion to fit its propaganda needs. This included portraying American children’s cartoon characters as capitalist oppressors.

    This is what the BBC reminds me of, hence my reference to the Soviet media and its exposes of Mickey Mouse. There really is little difference in my mind between the BBC today and the Soviet media of yesterday. Former Soviet refusenik Vladimir Bukovsky agrees with me.

    It looks like the Have Your Say team has now taken down some of the most ludicrous comments on the Janet Jackson incident. Perhaps even they realized how ridiculous their choice of “representative” comments appeared. Talk about the ravings of lunatics.


  7. ThE D()od says:


    Pure hilarity!

    “Of course, one consequence of giving control of the net to governments is that some governments are bad, prying on their citizens, denying human rights and reneging on international obligations.

    But not everywhere is the United States or China, and I would rather see the network in the hands of governments who can be lobbied, replaced and argued with, than leave it in the hands of the large corporations who develop the programs or standards bodies who are blind to people’s real interests.”


  8. ThE D()od says:

    Whoops – put that link in the homepage link… here it is!


  9. don says:

    More “Have your say”, this time in response to BBC1 Questiontime 5/2/04
    The BBC is like a broken record, another loaded audience, another loaded panel including an ex-BBC fanatic who tries yet again to re-run the lies you told to Hutton. Sadly, this and a biased chairman mean I cannot stand QT anymore. You must realise that you have ceased to have any journalistic integrity on shows like QT.
    Tony, Portsmouth

    “Tony, Portsmouth” can always switch over.
    James, Dundee

    BBC supporters like James of Dundee think that its is open to those who complain of BBC bias to watch something else instead.
    James fails to appreciate that we are all forced to pay for the BBC view of the world.


  10. steve jones says:

    > There really is little difference in my mind between the BBC today and the Soviet media of yesterday.


    christ I am glad I don’t have your mind.


  11. Angie Schultz says:

    And I’m glad I’m not the kind of idiot who 1) feels his point is more valid because he writes “HA” 208 times, and 2) doesn’t know what happens to a window when a single word is 416 characters long.


  12. Jane says:

    Wow steve jones, now that was a great comeback. Must be difficult living with yourself, given the tendancy to explode in extraordinarily witty repartee at the drop of a hat. How on earth do you manage it?


  13. Jane says:

    The D()D: Absolutely disgusting. And steve old buddy here is laughing at me for comparing the BBC to Pravda.


  14. stevejones says:

    Angie – yes, sorry, I too hate it when brower windows get enlarged, sorry – the comments box didn’t make it obvious that my ‘HAHA’ was as (over the top) repeated as much as it was – apologies again.

    Others – (formatting questions, as apologised above for, aside) – I find it very odd that people feel happy to compare the BBC to the censored media of the former Eastern Bloc. Have any of you ever actually read ‘Pravda’ (in its pre ‘liberalisation’ incarnation) ?

    All – I too would rather ‘.. see the network in the hands of governments who can be lobbied, replaced and argued with, than leave it in the hands of the large corporations who develop the programs or standards bodies who are blind to people’s real interests.’

    Why is that a bad thing? Disagreeing with a news story on the BBC’s web site is one thing. Does that make the BBC just like ‘Pravda’?


  15. Brian O'Connell says:

    Thanks for the link, Natalie.

    On the new topic of D()od’s link, it really is atrocious that anyone could think that way. The author, Bill Thompson, supposedly sees as a downside of giving control of the internet to national govts that two of those govts are the US and China (who have so much in common) and would abuse it. But it’s the US that’s in the lead resisting efforts to give control to govts. How does he explain that?

    The real issue of course is control of political speech. The violent porn angle is just a foot in the door. It wouldn’t surprise me if the EU bureaucracy and China cooperated to control internet speech. But the US will never agree to it or even respect it, thus reneging on another international “obligation”.


  16. Jane says:

    Brian O’Connell, agreed. And it really scares me. The tranzis tried to destroy big chunks of the US constitution through the International Criminal Court – now they are aiming for our First Amendment. Chilling.