Blasé BBC in most reluctant lead paragraph ever on Islamist slaughter?

It could just be a lazy mistake. But really, the way the BBC opens its top report on the latest appalling slaughter by Islamists in Nigeria makes it look as though this was a piece they just didn't want to report on

Boko Haram carnage against Christians
the commentator
On 25 February 2014 12:41

Even with notoriously biased left-wing media outlets such as the BBC, it's important to be sure that you do make your criticisms count. Sometimes they just make mistakes. Sometimes you might be reading too much into something. We say that by way of pre-emptive admission that this may, may, be one of those occasions. But...

Here are the facts of what happened:

The Boko Haram Islamist group in Nigeria which targets schools and places of higher education on the grounds that Western education is contrary to Islam have struck again overnight slaughtering dozens of kids in their sleep; throats were slit, boys were machine gunned in their pyjamas; others were burned alive as they writhed in agony from their wounds.

That's what everyone is reporting. Here's the lead paragraph on it from the BBC:

"Islamist militants from the Boko Haram group in north-eastern Nigeria have attacked a school and shot some students, the military has said."

Well, yes. That does appear to be at least part of the truth, and as one goes through the BBC's report it contains several of the details being reported on by other media outlets.

But the lead, as any journalist knows, is always the key to attracting a reader's attention. There have been studies showing that more than 90 percent of readers may stop reading a story after the first paragraph.

So, you concentrate the core elements into a few short lines. Even if they read no further, readers have still captured the essence of what has happened.

It's a similar deal with the headline which in this case reads: "Militants attack Nigerian school and 'shoot students'." Wow, those "militants" again, who this time are not even described in terms of their Islamist ideology. And "militants" it always is with the BBC, not "terrorists".

It's when you put it all together that that first paragraph looks like such a suspicious giveaway. But, to repeat, it's always possible to read too much into something. Make up your own minds and savour that lead paragraph again. Given the facts of the matter, could it really be more blasé?

"Islamist militants from the Boko Haram group in north-eastern Nigeria have attacked a school and shot some students, the military has said."

Oh, we almost forget to mention. Boko Haram is particularly fond of killing people for being Christian. No mention of that at all in the BBC report. Interesting, eh?

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