Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Headline-Substance Mismatch

The headline of this article on the recent Taliban attack in Kabul annoyed me:

"Kabul raid shows Taliban's strength, tests Afghan security coordination"

My first thought was that the raid proved that the Taliban could send a small team into a hotel, kill some people, and then get wiped out. That could be said of any armed group in any big city in any country. How is that a sign of Taliban strength?

But the article is better than the headline:

The attack highlights the Taliban’s strength at penetrating security in Kabul, which is one of seven areas slated to be handed over to Afghan security next month.

Ah, the attack highlights the Taliban strength at penetrating security. Well, that's a much narrower definition of strength and one fully in line with my initial reaction.

And the Afghan response was pretty good, apparently, including coordinating with Coalition support. So I guess they passed the security coordination test.

I know that headline writers can't condense the whole story's nuance, but might not  a better headline be:

"Taliban Kabul hotel attackers wiped out"

Just a thought.