Say you’re a prominent US newspaper with a bureau in Beirut. You decide to run an article based on Israeli army claims that Hezbollah is wantonly militarizing villages in south Lebanon — to the extent that a single village of 4,000 people is said to contain “about 400 military sites and facilities.”
Do you: (a) Take their word for it, and allow Israeli officials to jabber on for eleven paragraphs before tacking on the disclaimer that “the Israeli claims could not be independently verified,” or (b) Send someone to take a look at one or two of the villages in question? (Or at least give Google Earth a whirl.)
If you’re today’s New York Times, the first option is the preferred one.