Monday, April 16, 2007

It's OK to edit the wires

Another lovely spring morning at the Manor: Set the coffee on, feed the kitties,* see how far under the neighbor's pickup truck the morning paper landed, turn on radio, open paper.

Nice long article about the French presidential race (still nothing about Nigeria or Zimbabwe, but ... hey, an election precede from a nuclear-armed permanent member of the Security Council is a start). And reasonably thoughtful stuff too, right up until:

After 12 years of Chirac, France almost certainly will get its first leader born after World War II. It might, in another first, be a woman: the Socialists' motherly, ever-smiling Segolene Royal. Or it may be the right's Nicolas Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian immigrant.

That's enough to put you right off your fresh-fried lobster. Motherly? There's Segolene, at left. We report, you decide.

Now. Over and above the accuracy of the adjective is its appropriateness. How parent-like status is determined from looks, and its relevance to head-of-state-dom, go unexplained here. Notable is the lack of a similar adjective for Nick, shown at right. Is he "fatherly"? Or just "marionette-like"? Or -- here's an idea -- neither?

Broad-sunny-uplands-of-2007-wise, you'd like to think we could relax the general state of alert for gratuitous, pinheaded sexism in international news coverage. Apparently we might have to wait another week or so. Meanwhile, the lesson for copyeds is: The wires aren't infallible. They aren't protected by a magic shield. Dumb journalism from the wires is still dumb journalism. Pretend the creditline isn't there and edit away. It's called wire "editing" for a reason.

* By the way, Sunday was two years since Woodchuck and Bernie left their home under the Neff Hall hostas to become the official HEADSUP-L research kitties. Happy Bernieversary.


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