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Here’s the inflammatory header, dated June 2, 2013: “Saudi prince rapes, kills Saudi girl.”

Published by the Mehr News Agency out of Tehran, it has been picked up by at least two mainstays of the blogovating anti-Jihad:

Sheikyermami. “Saudi Prince Kidnaps, Rapes and Murders Girl — Dumps Her Body on Street.”  Winds of Jihad, June 2, 2013.

Godlike Productions.  “Saudi prince rapes, kills Saudi girl.”  June 2, 2013.

I learned looking twice at Palestinian olive grove “stories” that one press release may fill a hundred anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist outlets, and when one searches for other reportage or witness showing signs of independence or originality, it may not be there (or that was just my experience).

At such times I wish I had a trustworthy scribbler in position to record pictures and take testimony and tell me, whatever it may have been, “It happened!”

Or it didn’t happen.

Instead, before going bonkers over another barbarism-in-the-kingdom story, I start looking for superficial corroboration, i.e., mention of the same event from multiple sources, preferably disinterested newsy ones.

Trenwith, Courtney.  “Saudi prince denies kidnapping, killing woman.”  Arabian Business.com, May 12, 2013.

The salient features are there — same town, same prince, same murder — but the denial plays in the press in the middle of May, while the Mehr News Agency dateline suggests it took place in the first day or two of June.

From the same source, Arabian Business.com, here’s the play the next day (May 13, 2013): “Police in Saudi Arabia have arrested a man on suspicion of murdering a woman and throwing her corpse out into the street a month ago, English language Saudi Gazette reported.”

Not only has the June 2 dateline on the alleged arrest been turned back to mid-May, but the alleged murder itself has been pushed back to mid-April!

The story continues, “Police said they had arrested a former teacher in connection with the case,” and either for good measure or because it’s true — how is an innocent remote reader to tell? — let’s add, “who had originally been accused by the victim’s family when the missing person’s report was first filed.”

Beneath that report, one reader wrote, “Many commentators accused the prince who proved to be an innocent man, what happened to fairness and integrity among us people . . . .”

The story gets better.

Chasing original cited attribution back to the Saudi Gazette, there’s no listing of the murder — i.e., report of a body dumped in the Al-Samer neighborhood of Jeddah — for mid-April 2013 although the paper runs a pretty good listing from the police blotter.  That doesn’t mean something didn’t happen, but one would think the start of a big story would have left a little trace in the news around the time it took place.

This title appears on May 16: “Revenge motive suspected in woman’s murder” (Abdulrahman Al-Ali, Saudi Gazette).  True, it may not be the same story, but those salient features — murder the babe and dump the body — are in it: “Spokesman for Jeddah police First Lt. Nawwaf Al-Bouq said two Saudi citizens were arrested in Khulais Saturday morning, less than 24 hours after the body was found.”

And later after the perp done the deed: “He then called his brother to help him move the body and dispose of it in Al-Samer neighborhood.”

In conclusion: “Al-Bouq pointed out that there were false reports tying this crime with other incidents. “Such reports are completely untrue and are meant to spread fear and apprehension in society,” said the police spokesman

All of the above, which I think may involve mudslinging from Tehran followed by a response from the Kingdom (backdating those stories?), seems a perfect BackChannels story, especially in light of who is leaning over the rails and most closely following the cockfight in Syria.

Are the lower brethren — my ranks, I guess — of the Fourth Estate curious as regards the validity of the latest outrage to fly across their screens?

Apparently not to those replicating the Mehr source story, e.g., Sharia Unveiled: “Saudi Prince Rapes and Murders Young Girl Then Dumps Her Body on the Street“.

According to what looks like a May 13 update in the Saudi Gazette, “Prince Khalid Bin Saad said on his Twitter account that he did not have anything to do with the woman found dead on the street. He stressed that he will use all legal channels to sue those who spread this rumor.”

*****

Once or twice a week, and I would wish the incident rate much less, a compelling and provocative post on something or other shows up in my Facebook stream, and I am so outraged, which was rather someone’s point in sending the signal, that I share it in the Facebook way before checking it out.  

Then, after the share button has been clicked and conscience plus curiosity get the better of me, I’ll learn the “latest outrage” (that I helped circulate) has been traveling around the web since 2007.

I am so ashamed when I do that!

Truly, I exaggerate but a little for effect: the real feeling is that of being used or “played” by the sender before me and also feeling as a writer irresponsible.

*****

I have called Internet-based witness “The Second Row Seat to History”, since 2006, the year blogging technology became popular (for me, at least) and English-language editions of foreign press started showing up on the web.

I had wanted to see the world.

Now we are down the Information Highway some decades, and those who mean well may have in this maturing environment the challenge of sorting and analyzing a massive flow of information daily: what is it telling us?

It helps to have some themes, and it turns out I like politics and language, also conflict, culture, and psychology, would that the interest today were matched by funding.

It’s also going to help to develop more comprehensive and swift methods for assessing the validity of “secondary source” information while — we know this is coming — developing relationships leading to more democratized, global, high-integrity (clear, accurate, complete) primary reportage, a slow process that as well as a reminder about how money works in the news business and why “Big Media” has gotten that way.

Also: as a blogger, I don’t think I need to work up a newspaper from my desktop: it may be more than enough to “track” stories and themes, aggregate material, learn continuously — I am able to order what I want for the library, usually, and able to read at length, although I think allocating that kind of time would be easier under contract — and analyze events and processes with improving clarity,  comprehension, humanity, and prescience.

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