"When a big story breaks — like, say, a major arrest foiling a frightening terrorist plot in peaceful Canada — the first question anyone wants to know is “who?”. Who did it? That is, after all, the first of journalism’s five Ws: who, what, when, where, why (and how).Which is why the mainstream media is an almost useless source of information unless you take the time to watch *both* fox news and cnn. Or you could just plug-in to the blogosphere and get better, more concise, information from a diverse collection of informed and intelligent sources.
But The New York Times on my doorstep this morning didn’t bother answering the who question in its story today until a spare mention of “Islamic” in the 22nd paragraph and “Muslim” in the 31st and even those were not terribly informative. In the fifth paragraph, the suspects were merely “mainly of South Asian descent.” India? Burma? Thailand? Indian? Southeast? Southwest? French-speaking terrorists from Vietnam coming to join their Quebecois confrères, perhaps? Who’s to know?
The Times wasn’t the only one. I heard the report on radio and they didn’t answer the first W, either. This is not journalism. Journalism answers the most basic questions, especially the tough ones.
A later story in The Times used the word “mosque” in the lead. Well, that helps.
Various stories also fell over themselves to say there was no known connection to al Qaeda. So? Is that the exclusive franchiser of islamofascist terrorism?"
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
The first W: