Sunday, December 14, 2014

Revise and Resubmit Your Headline

Something was wrong on the internet yesterday.  Really!  I saw this article and was provoked:
The article itself had a very interesting discussion of what the Canadian Special Operations Forces are doing in Iraq.  The title annoyed me greatly.  For one, the article was mostly about the SOF and not about an extension.  For another, this is not really news.  That is, the status quo since the vote was taken a few months ago is that the mission would be for six months with the possibility (probability IMHO) of renewal, just as Canada renewed its participation in the Libya mission twice and just as (albeit more controversially) the Kandahar mission was renewed twice--in 2006 and 2008.

When I went back to look at the piece later, its headline had changed to this:
Other than the title change, it is pretty much the same article.  Indeed, the link still has the old title.  Does that mean that someone at the G&M was listening to me?  Or that a different editor got his/her hands on the article?  Or that Steven Chase complained when his article was headlined incorrectly?  I have no idea.

The bigger news here really is that the SOF talked to a reporter and actually gave more than vague answers.  Unlike US SOF (especially SEALs), the Canadian SOF tend not to talk and the media tend not to cover them closely.  So, this is quite interesting in and of itself.  One could wonder whether the SOF folks were asked to be more transparent by the government (unlikely, given this government) or were speaking out anyway because they felt like it (maybe, maybe not).  The other key item here is what they are doing/where they are doing it--not on the frontlines, mostly training a specific set of skills to improve the Kurds' ability to fight.  Not mentoring/embedding on the battlefield, and certainly not running and killing daesh fighters (unlike the British SOF).

The lesson here is, as always, the writer of the article does not write the headline.

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