Friday, March 18, 2005

Is This Paragraph Actually Journalism?

In "Wolfowitz tapped for World Bank" by Elizabeth Becker and David E. Sanger of The New York Times, they discuss the planned nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to the World Bank. I don't think it's supposed to be an opinion piece, but I also don't know what you'd call this paragraph:

The announcement... was greeted with quiet anguish in many foreign capitals where the Iraq conflict and its aftermath remain deeply unpopular and Wolfowitz's drive to spread democracy around the world has been viewed with some suspicion.

The depth of my journalism knowledge extends to the old "Who, What, When, Where, Why, And How?" Maybe that's obsolete, but I would think that the paragraph is supposed to pass on some data to the reader.

So let's take it from the top-- "The announcement... was greeted with quiet anguish". Maybe Elizabeth and David are just highly empathetic, but exactly what does that mean? Did anyone say anything, like "I'm in anguish over this Liz" or is that the extent that journalism goes to? "Trust me, even though it was quiet, it was anguish. Take it from me, the New York Times."

Let's assume they measured the anguish and it's sound amplitude and they're right. It was greeted with quiet anguish where? Well, "in many foreign capitals where the Iraq conflict and its aftermath remain deeply unpopular and Wolfowitz's drive to spread democracy around the world has been viewed with some suspicion." OK, let me get my almanac and see which capitals those are. I would assume that maybe they spoke to some people in these capitals, wouldn't it be easier to just list them so I don't have to figure it out myself? Or is it easiest to just type sentences that mean nothing, that say nothing, and send it up through whatever editorial process they have?

They've succeeded in claiming there's quiet anguish over the possible nomination, that the war remains deeply unpopular in many capitals, and that Paul Wolfowitz's democratic drive is viewed with suspicion in those capitals, without having to say who, or where, or what they said that conveyed those feelings.

Two journalists worked on the story, and I assume at least one person read it before approving it. So out it goes, a paragraph of nothing really, from authors who assume they have their finger on the pulse of those nameless capitals and anguished, suspicious people. Impressive work indeed. Story templates, preconceived ideas, and assumptions must save a lot of money on phone bills and travel expenses.

Note: There is more in the story, and some quotes from actual people as well, but to me that only makes the inclusion of this paragraph more curious, why not just say what they heard and leave it at that?

3 Comments:

Blogger Darnelly said...

I like the way you write, I really Do, I think you haver talent like journalist :) Regards!

11:01 PM  
Blogger Darnelly said...

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11:02 PM  
Blogger Darnelly said...

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11:05 PM  

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