Saturday, 15 December 2007

Opinion vs. News at the International Herald Tribune

As I have written before, one of the main reasons I am such a fan of the International Herald Tribune is its policy to separate news from news analysis and the two of them from opinion.

Sometimes this can be a subjective call, and one that copy editors are presumably charged with being alert to.

Elaine Sciolino, writing in yesterday's IHT on Qaddafi's visit to France (Rocky time for Qaddafi during visit to France; Friday, December 14, 2007) stated that the Libyan leader 'insulted his host' by denying the subject of human rights had come up in his discussions with Sarko, Sarko having stated that they had.

That was certainly the opinion of one of her 'sources', a senior Socialist, speaking on RTL radio (that's known as riffing off other MSM content providers btw) who was of the opinion that Qaddafi calling Sarko a liar was an affront to France, a humiliation.

But was Sciolino right to report as 'news' (i.e fact) that Qaddafi had insulted his host?

Sarko, the insulted one, wasn't consulted by Sciolino, and if indeed Qaddafi was telling the truth - and we don't know he wasn't - could it be correctly termed an insult?

This style of news reporting smacked of opinion, not news.

An interesting comparison from yesterday's paper was a story by Nicola Clark in the business section about the sale of the Italian government's stake in Alitalia. (Mysterious approach for Alitalia vanishes; Friday, December 14, 2007)

According to Clark, Alitalia claimed it had received an approach from a group that included Singapore Airlines - 'a claim the Asian carrier swiftly denied' (btw: thanks to Clark for informing the IHT's infamously well-travelled readers that Singapore Airlines is indeed an Asian carrier).

Unlike Sciolino, Clark felt unable to offer as fact that Singapore Airlines had been insulted by this Alitalia claim.

No comments: