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Leon Hadar accuses war correspondents of taking sides and war-mongering, and with good reason; but, however, it behooves us to look deeper into the very notion of truth-telling journalism.

We as a species love stories. Our brains construct them to make sense of our experience; we even make up stories to fill in our visual blind spots caused by our optic nerves. It is no wonder then that journalists will turn to stories to capture our attention. The trouble rises, however, when we look deeper into how story narratives must be constructed in order for us to make sense of them.

As any student of the writing craft well knows, stories receive their power from framing — meaning selective inclusion of relevant facts, from creating conflict — meaning defining the in- and out-groups and guiding the reader into associating with the chosen in-group, from appealing to emotion — meaning simplifying facts and their causes and smoothing out shades-of-gray distinctions, and from pandering to preexisting bias. In effect, all journalism — not less than pure propaganda — is an exercise in generating lies, and it behooves us to remember this next time we read of yet another oppressed grouping looking for support in their fight for justice.

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