Thursday, November 16, 2006

How many is a handful of people?

Yesterday, the main headline in Gulf News (15 November, 2006) was on how more than 150 people were abducted from the Iraqi Education Ministry Building in broad daylight.

The page layout was misleading as a lot of people including myself for a second, thought how in the heavens did the abductors have enough time to line up the 150 victims for a group photo on the stairs outside the building in suits?

Then it struck me, the photo beneath the main story was for another news story altogether and nothing to do with the abduction of hostage!

Then today, be it the Gulf News sub editor or reporter who complied the various agency reports or the agencies themselves printed a story:

"Iraq minister says some hostages tortured, killed"

Baghdad: Kidnappers who seized dozens of men from an Iraqi government building two days ago tortured and killed some of their hostages, the minister for higher education said on Thursday, citing the testimony of freed hostages.

The comments from Abd Dhiab, who also said some 70 staff were still missing, underlined the rifts in the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, who has insisted that all but a handful of around 40 hostages have been freed...

Higher Education Minister Dhiab told reporters on Thursday that around
70 hostages had been released out of about 150 staff and visitors originally seized from one of his ministry's buildings in central Baghdad."

Note the words in Bold and think about this :
~150 people is more than 12 dozens so can they use the term dozens when talking about 150 people?
~70 missing and some killed - considering the present Iraqi scenario where 'missing = dead' when did 70 become 'some.'
~Handful of 40 hostages - when was 40 people called a handful?
~If 70 are freed from 150, that means 80 are missing - talk about confusion and how words and statements are made to mislead the reader to the exact scenario!

Death has always been numbers and technical terms to play around with, by the media and politicians alike!

“Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself.”

~ James Froude (British Historian, 1818-1894)


m.b said...

damn...i wud hav never noticed it otherwise....see dats y i avoid readin da read...and no mislead...lolz..naha jus kiddin...tryin to develop da habbit still:P:P...

A said...

This has to be one of the most confusing stories that Gulf News has ever published. If I read that one article as a completely unaware reader, I would be left dazed by the end of it wondering how many hostages had been freed, how many missing or even how many kidnapped in the first place...

Lirun said...

oh my god.. i miss one day of news.. i hadnt heard about it!! this is insane!!!!!!

Free Mind said...

Lirun - insanity is at times too mild a word to describe what is happening in Iraq!

Rejected said...

A friend of mine was released the very second day. He was Christian.

On the other hand, my brother's friend was found in four pieces in the morgue weeks later. He was Sunni and he and his fiancé were planning to tie the knot in Eid.