“Cambodia garment workers’ strike turns deadly after police open fire”
This story’s headline reveals a lot about the nature of power structures in society if we consider some basic facts about the nature of news headlines in terms of syntax or the arrangement of and choice of words. If you read it straight through, you will notice that this sentence is written in the passive voice.
The initial implication of the structure or syntax is that the ‘Cambodia garment workers’ strike turns deadly’ because of the workers or their strike, not because of the police open fire. In fact, when you first read it, did you think perhaps the police open fire because the Cambodia garment workers’ strike turned deadly?
Certainly, that is one implication: the police are responding to a ‘deadly turn’ in the strike, something that is/was caused by the workers themselves (i.e. the strike) rather than by the police. This in turn implies that the three workers (and other striking workers) are responsible for their own (colleagues’) deaths.
But, ask yourself, ‘why did “Cambodia garment workers’ strike turns deadly”? Is it not because ‘police open fire’? If you read further into the news story, you will know that the police were armed with the AK-47 (i.e. automatic rifle). The striking workers were not armed.
Why not write the sentence like this (using almost all the exact same words): ‘ Cambodian police open deadly fire on striking garment workers’? This sentence makes it more clear as to the ‘subject-verb-action’ of the simple sentence and gives what is surely a more direct relationship between ’cause-and-effect’ – i.e. what happened – by putting the subject (‘police’) before the verb (‘open fire’) and the ‘object’ of ‘effect’.
Would this not be the better form of journalism whereby the ‘actors’ (i.e. police) or ‘subject’ (of the sentence) engaged in the ‘action’ (verb) on the ‘object’ (i.e. workers) so that it is clear. You should compare this to other forms of news coverage to get a sense of how news works to help construct a particular view of the world.
However, I would just point out that as we become accustomed to reading news in a particular fashion, we do not think consciously about these sorts of structures – even if you are a critical thinking individual engaged in the world around us. (There are many scholarly studies of news coverage of protests from which I have drawn.)