NEWS is simple to write.
The introduction must be short and sharp and tell the reader what happened, preferably in less than 25 words.
But CNN prefer to camouflage the news rather than to report it.
Take this impressive piece of verbal contortion from a CNN report on August 31:
“Two Chicago police officers pulled over a person suspected of having a gun, and all three ended up hospitalised with gunshot wounds, officials say.”
According to CNN’s headline, the act of pulling a suspect over resulted in everyone just “getting gunshot wounds”.
Police pull over a car.
And yada, yada, yada.
And everyone ended up shot.
What happened between “officers pulled over a person” and “all three ended up hospitalised” doesn’t seem particularly important to CNN’s incurious reporter.
There they all were – suspect and police officers gathered together on the curb – when bullets started falling from the sky like rain.
“And all three ended up hospitalised with gunshot wounds”.
Did the officers shoot themselves? Did they trip and fall on some bullets?
Maybe it was those damned magic gunshot-wound fairies playing their harmless pranks again.
Or – and this is just a wild guess –maybe the man stopped by police pulled a gun, shooting and wounding two officers before himself being shot by a third officer who came to his colleagues’ rescue.
You would need to read eight paragraphs of CNN’s report (most people don’t read more than the first sentence of any news story) before discovering that the armed perpetrator opened fire first, taking out two police. He was then shot by a third officer arriving at the scene as back-up.
Imagine the mental contortions it took to write CNN’s headline, doing everything linguistically possible to avoid saying that a person had a gun and shot two police with it.
Passive voice is discouraged when writing news headlines. Unless of course, it is to draw attention away from the fact that a suspect shot two police officers.
And why would CNN want to disguise the simple fact of what happened?
The fact that police can be ambushed at a run-of-the-mill traffic stop does not fit the CNN narrative.
The fact that a member of the public shot police, rather than police black shot members of the public, doesn’t fit the CNN narrative.
The fact that policing is a difficult and dangerous job does not fit the CNN narrative.
So what do you do when actual facts from actual events do not conform to the pre-approved news narrative?
You twist and contort and you duck and you weave and you stand on your head and you call it news.
But we all know it’s not. It’s just CNN.
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James Macpherson is a sought after international speaker with a background in journalism at the Courier Mail and Daily Telegraph. He previously pastored a significant church in Australia and South Africa. James' weekly Good Sauce podcast comes out every Tuesday. He also writes regularly for The Spectator.