Musician is a Terrorist?

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on October 5, 2011

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-Read the excerpt below from the "Best of the Web" post by OpinionJournal.com's editor James Taranto (original post date 9/29/11).
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

Twenty-six-year-old Rezwan Ferdaus “was arrested Wednesday and accused of plotting to blow up the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol, as well as attempting to assist Al Qaeda in attacking U.S. troops overseas,” Fox News reports:

Ferdaus, who graduated Northeastern University in 2008 with a degree in physics, is accused of beginning in early 2010 a plot to bring violent “jihad” against the U.S, who he described as “enemies of Allah.”

Ferdaus is also accused of supplying eight mobile phones to undercover FBI agents who he thought were recruiters for Al Qaeda. The phones were modified to be used as electrical switches for IEDs, and Ferdaus thought they could be used to kill American soldiers, the affidavit said. Ferdaus also allegedly made a training video to demonstrate how to make the weapons.

Ferdaus said “that was exactly what I wanted,” when he was told one of the devices killed three U.S. soldiers and injured four to five others in Iraq in June, authorities said. . . .

“I want the public to understand that Mr. Ferdaus’ conduct, as alleged in the complaint, is not reflective of a particular culture, community or religion,” said Carmen Ortiz, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. “In addition to protecting our citizens from the threats and violence alleged today, we also have an obligation to protect members of every community, race and religion against violence and other unlawful conduct.”

We must admit, we were a bit puzzled by Ortiz’s disclaimer. What “culture, community or religion” could she possibly be talking about? Hmm, maybe there’s a clue in that talk about “al Qaeda” and “jihad” and “Allah.” Could it be that Ferdaus is a Mu . . . a Mu . . . a . . .

Oh, what the [heck], we’ll just let CBS News come out and say it: “Massachusetts Musician Accused of D.C. Terrorist Plot.”

Read the original post at OpinionJournal.com. (scroll one-third of the way down the page to “Percussion Section”)

Questions

1.  What does the headline “Massachusetts Musician Accused of D.C. Terrorist Plot” lead you to believe about the plotter?

2.  Why is it important for newspapers to provide accurate headlines for every news article?

3.  Why do you think CBS News chose the headline they used?

4.  Do you think the media would have found the terrorist’s religion important had he been Christian or Jewish?  Explain your answer.


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
























Answer(s)

1.  Answers vary along the lines of:  The headline leads the reader to believe that the person plotting the terrorist attacks was just a regular guy – a musician from Massachusetts.  It doesn’t really give the impression that the person is a Muslim extremist.

2.  Headlines can greatly influence readers’ opinions about the news. The importance of an accurate headline is that most people don’t read every word of every article; they often just skim the headlines. Therefore, those who read just a headline are not accurately informed when the headline misrepresents the story.

3.  Opinion question. Answers vary.

4.  Opinion question. Answers vary.