Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Preposition too far at the NYT

by Leo Rennert

If you were to read in your local newspaper an article about construction of highways, it goes without saying that readers would understand that more roads are being built.

Ditto in the West Bank, where New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren tells readers about Israel’s  “continued construction OF settlements.”.  Such construction, she reports, is not sitting well with Palestinians.  As for Times readers, they naturally would surmise that Israel is building more settlements, or additional settlements.

Except this ain’t so.  Israel is not building more settlements.  Whatever housing construction is planned or under way takes place in settlements. Inside settlements. Within settlements.  But there is no proliferation of settlements, as Rudoren suggests.  For several years, Israel has not built additional settlements or expanded the boundaries of existing ones.  Rather, housing construction generally has been confined within the bounds of existing settlements.

Which makes a big difference from the way Rudoren writes in a March 24 article, “Standoff Over Release of Palestinian Prisoners Threatens Mideast Talks.”  Using ‘’of” instead of “in” to describe what construction is going on in settlements boils down to a difference between inaccuracy and accuracy.  For one thing, Israel couldn’t be criticized for engaging in a land grab if Rudoren were to stick to giving readers an accurate report.

The Times needs to correct the false impression left by Rudoren when she reported “continued construction of settlements” and, in the future, make it clear to readers that construction is taking place within existing settlements. Such wording still may not please everyone, certainly not the New York Times, but it has the advantage of accuracy – an objective the Times should not so easily discard.

Leo Rennert


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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