Patterico's Pontifications



Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:20 am

HEADLINES AND SUICIDE BOMBERS, REVISITED TOO SOON: Yesterday I discussed the issue of how newspaper headlines count the number of deaths caused by a suicide bomber. I would have preferred not to have a real-life example occur so soon. However, this being the real world, an example has come down one day later.

The headline in today’s Dog Trainer reads Suicide Blast Kills at Least 1 in Israel. The first sentence begins: “A suicide bombing at an Israeli supermarket a short distance from the West Bank killed the bomber and at least one other person this morning.”

In other words, the paper did not include the bomber’s death in the toll in the headline; “Kills 1″ meant “Kills 1 Other Person.” As I said yesterday, I think this is the right way to do it. When most people read “Suicide Blast Kills 1,” they take it to mean someone other than the bomber.

The Dog Trainer story describes only one of the two bombings that occurred in Israel today. Each bombing killed at least one innocent Israeli, as well as the suicide bomber. An Associated Press story which discusses both bombings follows the same protocol as the Dog Trainer, with the headline “Suicide Bombings Kill Two Israelis.” I am seeing an emerging consensus not to include the death of the bomber in the headline’s death toll.

Let us hope we have few opportunities to reexamine this issue.

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