Monday, February 13, 2006

how not to write a news article

This, from an article by AP writer Nancy Armour re: about poor Michelle Kwan, who at age 25 has lost her last chance to go for an Olympic gold (cringe-inducing part in italics):

Kwan's last chance to win the only medal that has eluded her grasp -- an Olympic gold -- ended sadly Sunday when she withdrew from the Turin Games because of a groin injury.

She has chased that medal for a decade, coming so close twice that she could feel its heavy weight around her neck. Now she's headed home, her neck as empty as her heart.

Ms. Armour, your head is as empty as my... head.

Shit, that is hard to write.

UPDATE: Here's another example of suck-ass Olympic coverage. While I'm leery of over-the-top conservative rhetoric, I'm also leery of bitter, petty drivel like this from journalist and blogger Pierre Tristam. It's the sort of diatribe that reminds us that evidence for the existence of liberal media abounds. While I'm not so naive as to say all media are liberal, I think it's a good bet that most of the print media, and much of what's on TV, skews leftward. Tristam tries several times to paint NBC as a neocon shill; I'll leave it to actual neocons to rebut that silliness, if they feel so inclined.

One thing that bugs me in the article is the naive assumption that American coverage shouldn't feature more America-related material. A globe-trotting journalist should know better than to complain about this without qualifying his complaint: the fact of the matter is that other countries covering the Olympics are busily putting their own country-centric spin on the proceedings. That's how it works in Korea when there are major international events, and it's what I remember from my time in France. This is only natural, not a sign of arrogant hegemonism. I don't resent Koreans for a Korea-first approach to coverage, nor do I resent the French for a France-first approach. It's a long-known fact that cultures tend to view themselves as Omphalos Gas, the belly-button of the earth. Tristam, intent on showing us how one-sided a journalist he can be, fails to note this.*

On his blog, he also rather embarrassingly misspells indépendant in his Voltaire quotation (right-hand sidebar). It's "-dent" in English; "-dant" in French, mon pôte. For those who don't read French, the quote is a good one, and Tristam's misspelling gives it new meaning:

Il n’y a rien de si dangereux qu’un homme indépendent [sic] comme moi, qui aime à rire et qui hait les sots.

"There is nothing so dangerous as an independent man like myself, who loves to laugh and hates fools."

*Then again, you might counter that I should stop resenting newspapers for having a "my agenda first" approach. Ouch. Touché.


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