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News test: Try to figure out what The New York Times thinks about abortion vote in Ireland

News test: Try to figure out what The New York Times thinks about abortion vote in Ireland

Innuendo, bias and half-truths make a mess of a report in the New York Times on next month’s abortion referendum in the Republic of Ireland. Though over 1200 words-long, the March 27, 2018 story entitled “As Irish Abortion Vote Nears, Fears of Foreign Influence Rise” is nearly incoherent. A great many words are used to say rather little rather badly.

What exactly is the Times trying to say in what is supposed to be a hard-news feature?

That it is wrong that money from foreign anti-abortion activists is being spent to influence the vote? That religious sentiment, thank goodness, is now a minor factor in the debate? That fell consultancy groups are manipulating the simple-minded to vote against relaxing the republic’s abortion laws? That there is a vast right-wing conspiracy™ at work seeking to deprive women of control over their bodies?

These assertions all appear, but are either unsubstantiated, or knocked down by facts cited elsewhere in the article. The way this reads indicates that there must have been an editor with an agenda at work.

Bits that would give a logical flow are missing, while buzzwords are pushed to the forefront of the story that plays to the Times’ core readership. The National Rifle Association, the Trump Administration, the Republican National Committee, Cambridge Analytica and the Vote Leave campaign in Britain (gasp!) appear as villains. An ur-reader of the New York Times will be expected to clutch their pearls and faint with shock at the goings on in Ireland, or explode with righteous indignation.

The lede opens magazine style -- offering a vignette that illustrates the arguments that will be raised further into the story.

DUBLIN -- As Ireland prepares to vote in May on a referendum on whether to repeal its ban on abortion, anti-abortion campaigners can be seen rallying most weekdays on the streets of Dublin, outside Parliament, and at universities, news media buildings and the offices of human rights groups.

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Human rights? Let's learn from Saudi Arabia. The UN does.

Human rights? Let's learn from Saudi Arabia. The UN does.

Headed to Manhattan? Be careful. It's that time of year again. The 70th annual Grand Debate of the United Nations General Assembly has descended upon Gotham -- and Bruce Wayne is no where to be found.

Once again, we're knee deep in speeches by world leaders who muddy their talks with agenda-driven half-truths and outright lies, and, on occasion, lofty goals that never seem to manifest. Not to mention the finger-pointing, buck-passing, and pleas from the world's have-not nations for help from the wealthy -- another reason for general disappointment.

Plus, it's the cause of massive midtown Manhattan traffic jams. So watch yourself. Better yet, join Wayne, where ever he is.

Monday's opening day featured dueling speeches by President Barack Obama and Russia's Vladimir Putin. Guess what. Each had a better idea for turning the world toward the peaceable kingdom.

But this is GetReligion, so let's skip the headline-grabbing political theater and focus on another UN farce -- Saudi Arabia's growing role within the UN's Human Rights Council.

Why is this important to journalists, and religion writers in particular?

Because the skewed judgements and pronouncements emanating from the Human Rights Council are too often reported -- particularly in barebones wire-service stories -- as carrying legitimate moral authority with little or no information that adds important counter-balancing context.

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The Coptic ghost in those potential flights from Egypt

Am I surprised that The New York Times has published a story on the possibility that freethinking Egyptians are beginning to flee their troubled nation or, at the very least, to debate whether it is time to do?

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