Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

And the Naked Emperor Proudly Paraded on. How does Newspaper Nonsense get Printed?

Let’s look at one way that nonsense gets into news reports.

What do you do if you work for a newspaper and you need to report on something that you completely don’t understand.

  • Do you ask questions until you get it,
  • Or do you present the sentences as they were given to you, writing a piece that you don’t understand, but hoping that it will make sense to some readers somehow, pretending that this is an intelligent article?

What do you do if you are the evening editor of a morning paper and there is a technical article which you can’t follow?

  • Do you give it a nice headline and a sweet place in the paper,
  • Or do you say: This won’t get in until someone can explain this to me; so far it makes no sense?

How often do reporters and editors go for plan A: pretending that they get it? Until a reader reports back: This makes no sense; the emperor is walking stark naked?

Take the publication of the findings of the investigation after the landing tragedy of the F-16I of Major Ohad Cohen-Nov.

Hebrew Y-net comes with a report, at 14:30. The writer reports in the first paragraph that “asymmetries due to differences in weights between rounds led to the loss of control of the landing.” When and if an English translation will be up is unclear.

Arutz Sheva, always quick with news, had a short but crystal clear message at 15:02, headed: “Fatal plane crash caused by imbalanced load.” Its two sentences explained further that “the imbalance of weight [came] from munitions that were left over following an operation over Gaza.” All what one needs to know to know it all. Restraint reveals the master’s hand.

The Jerusalem Post comes at 15:31 with a long confusing report. The crash was the result of … “the jet landing in “asymmetric” conditions.” Now, that is unclear, but it’s explained further down as: “landing in an asymmetric configuration.” Twice more will the journalist tell us that “asymmetric configurations” are dangerous. The next day the paper will be printed. Will the editor of the evening have spotted this, what seems to be nonsense?

  1. Aircraft configuration can mean: Internal arrangement or layout of aisles, doors, galleys, passenger facilities, seats of different sizes and pitch, etc., of a passenger aircraft.

plane config

  1. Or – everybody knows – plane configurations are these:


  1. Or, but the average news paper reader does not know this, clean configuration can mean: a configuration of a fixed-wing aircraft when its external equipment is retracted.

So, the common reader is now in the dark what seat (1.) or flight (2.) configuration has to do with landing. (Nothing.)

The Times of Israel, often the most complete, at 16:19, comes with the same information that one could glean from the other three reports together, plus a little more, all relevant, well-readable and understandable, minus the irrelevant details or repetitions. No jargon is left untranslated, like “configuration” meaning the situation of external plane equipment.

The next morning, the printed Jerusalem Post had exactly the same text as I referred to above with the headline saying nothing about the reason for the crash “Army determines cause of October F-16 crash”.

The reporter just had quoted unintelligible army jargon pretending understanding it, and the editor put it in the paper pretending understanding it. A disservice to the readers in order to keep up personal appearance.

What a sad subject, anyway.

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science, Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. * He likes doing age-appropriate and age-inappropriate things and looks forward to getting to know his timeless mature out-of-the-box soul mate. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. To see other blog posts by him, a second blog - under construction - can be found by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture.
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