When we read a newspaper, if we are not very careful, we are taking in much more than the “facts.” Although it is seldom overt, it is the nature of the media beast to cast human struggles into simple melodramas with good and bad characters. When we see a picture of a riot or a battle, the angle of the camera may “embed” us on one side of the conflict or the other. It is hard to sympathize with a group that is pointing its weapons at you. We hardly notice when an “objective” newpaper account uses words like “militants” for the soldiers on the other side and “defense” for the soldiers on ours.

The following brief article looks at a National Public Radio report on the Syrian rebels with an eye to melodrama. Obviously the author has his own biases as well, but he asks several interesting questions. For example, what does it mean to say foreign forces have “liberated” a town, and why do we use the word “regime” for governments we consider  illegitimate?