Thursday, 24 July 2008

Reuters journalists and headlines versus NYT/IHT

I've mooted the idea before that if Reuters can handle the IHT's business section (largely) why not give them the general news gathering job, for three reasons.

Firstly, their reporting is not American centric, secondly they tend to employ more locals, thirdly they seem to write better for a truly international audience.

As an example, lets look at the reporting of the comments of Iranian President Ahmadinejad, speaking on Iranian state TV on Wednesday.

The first article, which frankly has a headline in the 'stir the pot' category, is written by IHT journalist Alan Cowell, rather cleverly from Paris. I don't imagine he speaks the language, and relies on the wires to tell him what the story is.

The second article, same story, is from local Reuters correspondent in Tehran, who finds something a little more positive.

Consider: they are both reporting on exactly the same speech broadcast live on state television from the city of Yasuj.

Cowell is using wire reports - he admits this - and we must presume he looked at Reuters.

Interestingly, from Paris, Yasuj is a city in western Iran, whereas the Reuters reporter has Yasuj in the south.

Now where is Yasuj?

On to Google Maps I go, and I find out it is exactly due south of Tehran, and indeed in the south, and, quite clearly, not in the west of Iran.

So why do we need Cowell's bias, why do we need his expensive salary, why do we need his sloppy cut and pasting and non-fact checking of this story.

Why not just run with Reuters, from Tehran, and be done with it?

There is a huge difference between these North/South stories. They both cover the same facts - Iranian stubborness and praise for Americans - but give precisely opposite emphasis. I find the Reuters article the better.

Iran being stubborn over nuclear ambitions isn't news; the President of Iran saying something good about the U.S, well that was news to me.

Iran won't relent on nuclear program
Published: July 23, 2008
PARIS: As world powers await Iran's reply to proposals concerning its nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted on Wednesday that Tehran would not "retreat one iota" from its atomic work, which includes the enrichment of uranium.
Ahmadinejad was speaking in a televised address during a visit to the western town of Yasouj, according to news agency reports from Tehran that also quoted him as sending more conciliatory messages alongside his familiar, firebrand oratory.
Ahmadinejad says U.S. envoy showed Iran respect
By Zahra Hosseinian Reuters
Published: July 23, 2008
TEHRAN: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday praised U.S. participation in last week's talks with Tehran on its disputed nuclear programme as "a positive step" and said its arch foe had shown respect.
"I advise you not to spoil this positive step ... by using the language of colonial times and by bullying," Ahmadinejad said in a speech broadcast live on state television.
But Ahmadinejad, who was unusually complimentary in his comments about a representative of a country Iran's clerical leaders see as "the Great Satan", made clear Tehran would not halt atomic work the West suspects is aimed at making bombs.
At Saturday's meeting with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator in Geneva, six world powers gave Iran two weeks to answer calls to rein in its nuclear activities or face more sanctions.
"If you imagine that by some threats, sanctions and pressure you can make the Iranian nation retreat, you are again making a mistake," Ahmadinejad said in the southern city of Yasuj.

International Herald Tribune
New York Times

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