Real news versus authoritative news

At last I’ve come to understand the value of Twitter.  It cuts to the chase.

This Tweet came in 25 minutes ago from New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, on the ground in Cairo.

“It’s not quite right to describe what’s happening in Tahrir (Square) as ‘clashes.’ These are attacks by Mubarak thugs.”

So what does the homepage of Kristof’s New York Times say today?  Under the headline, “Mubarak Allies and Foes Clash in Street,” the lead article reads:

CAIRO — President Obama’s calls for a rapid transition to a new order in Egypt seemed eclipsed on Wednesday as a choreographed surge of thousands of people chanting support for the Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarak, fought running battles with a larger number of antigovernment protesters in and around Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

Granted, The Times lead uses the word “choreographed” to imply what’s really going on. Kristof’s Tweet, however, doesn’t mince words.

In today’s world of news, in other words, we can try to read the tea leaves of official accounts ourselves or turn to those we trust to read those tea leaves for us and speak in unambiguous, plain English.  It makes for an interesting choice, with  both  options having value.

UPDATE: Kristof’s powerful blog about today’s violence in Tahrir Square can be found here.



About jerrylanson

I teach, write, coach and sing, though you're not required to listen to the latter. I'm a journalism professor at Emerson College in Boston. My third book, "Writing for Others, Writing for Ourselves," was published in November by Rowman & Littlefield Publishing. You can read a sample chapter at My passions are politics (generally liberal in outlook), music, mountains, golden retrievers and my grandchildren, though not in that order. Please stop by and mix it up with me. I always answer those who post.
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3 Responses to Real news versus authoritative news

  1. But seriously, then, what value does that jowly, measured — misleading — official news voice have now? The only useful reporting I’m hearing is from BBC; their World News devoted the entire hour to Cairo this morning…

  2. jerrylanson says:

    It’s value, as murky as it at times can seem, is in its caution. Sometimes the reporter on the ground can’t see the entire picture (though I’m betting on Nick Kristof’s interpretation). Having both the ground level view and the tempered or, as you put it, jowly version gives the reader or listener a sense of the unveiled reporter’s perception and the more moderated, more official version. A copout?
    Perhaps. I suspect traditional news organizations would have more loyal audiences if they were a bit less circumspect. But I’d rather have measured reporting than Fox News anytime. I at least get varied perspectives and I can look to other outlets to give me a more ground-level view. So I see value in both.

  3. jerrylanson says:

    Pardon … make that “Its value…”

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