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editing -- or lie?


Via an entry from Scott, I found out about an ongoing discussion regarding an email sent by Laurie Garret (Who wrote The coming plague, an excellent book on which I commented last year) to her friends reporting 'candindly' (to say the least) about what she saw and heard at the World Economic Forum at Davos. The main problem seems to be that Garret wasn't willing to actually publish the contents of the email--or that's what it appears since she was apparently outraged that what she said was being made public, rather than the text itself. As Scott puts it:

I'm sure it was upsetting to Garrett to find that words she intended for a small group got broadcast online. I don't envy her. But I think what irked a lot of people on the Net was the feeling they got that the story she told her friends was very different from the one she was likely to tell readers of her "official" work.

Rightly or wrongly, a lot of people feel that reporters know a lot more than what they actually put in their stories -- that the "real story" of our times is the one that reporters tell each other over beers, and in for-private-distribution-only e-mails, rather than the one they tell in their formal stories.

The Garrett episode seemed to confirm that. Here was a journalist returning from "hobnobbing" with the global elite and announcing that "the world isn't run by a clever cabal. It's run by about 5,000 bickering, sometimes charming, usually arrogant, mostly male people who are accustomed to living in either phenomenal wealth, or great personal power."

Her e-mail is a casual, unvarnished and sometimes blunt assessment of the poor state of the world ("The global economy is in very very very very bad shape"). With a little editing, it could have turned into a good magazine column. For all I know, that was Garrett's intention. But her reaction of outrage and violation at the viral-like spread of the e-mail suggests otherwise -- and reinforces readers' hunch that they've just gotten a fleeting glimpse of how journalists talk to each other when they think the mike is turned off.

Indeed.

Categories: art.media
Posted by diego on March 1 2003 at 8:58 AM

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