Sloppy Reporters

I get quite frustrated by bad journalism. As a amateur hobbyist on matters writing related, I care deeply about how people report things. In this post when I say bad journalism, I am not talking about the choice of subject matter (which is frequently and worthily criticized) but the quality of the reporting. At times I am led to believe that no one ever proof-reads the trash that routinely gets written. Here are a few examples.

Anand also signed autographs for his fans during play.

After the session he was engaged in a question-answer session with the participants.

The media was told not ask any questions.

This is taken from here (Rediff). Apart from being grammatically incorrect, the above excerpt also seems stupid. What use is a question answer session when you can’t answer questions? I am sure what it means is that the session was moderated and only pre-selected questions were allowed, but Mr. Reporter would you mind saying so? This in fact, is not even the most egregious example of its kind and such cases are quite bountiful.

Another example is this article here (The Hindu). This article talks about a letter that the President of FICCI wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, arguing for the removal of clauses 17(a) and 17(b) from the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill. While the article does a reasonable job of summarizing the arguments contained in the letter, it fails to answer the most basic follow-up question that any reader would have. What do those clauses say? If you read the full article, you can with some effort, piece together a hazy picture of those clauses. But isn’t it much better to just tell us about them directly?

I suspect that some of these practices are left-overs from the print era. There used to be a time when newspaper real-estate was costly and every word had to be chosen with care. In the online world, articles ought to be more detailed. News sites should make full use of the riches that the WWW offers and hyperlink content together in a way that curious readers can jump right into the middle of an issue and understand it without having to rewind.

2 thoughts on “Sloppy Reporters

  1. Heartily agree. And I’ve noticed this happens a lot with Indian media outlets, and not so much with others.

    Maybe its a function of the “Chalta hai” attitude where the proof readers can’t be bothered to get up from their cups of chai, long enough to make edits :)

  2. I hate what these websites report!! They have a “Babe of the day” section, and every page you open, every video you want to see, they have a 30 second commercial, whether you want to watch it or not, I hate Times of India for that. I feel like writing a letter to the editor and I did attempt to write one!

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