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ನೂರೆಂಟು ಸುಳ್ಳು (nUreMTu suLLu)

You may not be a "Dhrutharashtra", but we want to be the Sanjaya for you!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

How Recent Is "Recent"?

Yesterday's (September 16th, 2006) Vijaya Karnataka has an article titled " ಸಂಪಾದಕನ ವಿರುದ್ಧ ಇಡೀ ದೇಶವೇ ತಿರುಗಿ ಬಿದ್ದರೆ?" in the "ಸುದ್ದಿಮನೆ ಕತೆ".

It is about Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times and his decision to publish an article about the existance of a secret warrantless eavesdropping program.

As per this article:

ಇತ್ತೀಚೆಗೆ ಅಮೆರಿಕ ಅಧ್ಯಕ್ಷ ಜಾರ್ಜ್ ಬುಷ್ ತನ್ನ ವೈಟ್‌ಹೌಸ್‌ನ ಓವಲ್ ಕಚೇರಿಗೆ ಬಿಲ್ ಕೆಲ್ಲರ್ ಹಾಗೂ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಯ ಪ್ರಕಾಶಕ ಆರ್ಥರ್ ಕುಲ್ಜಬರ್ಗರ್ (sic) ಜೂನಿಯರ್ ಅವರನ್ನು ಕರೆಸಿದ್ದರು.
The question is how recent ("ಇತ್ತೀಚೆಗೆ") is this "recently"?

The New York Times article was published on December 16th 2005***. Keller and Sulzberger visited 11 days before that article got published.

We know "recently" is relative. But, is 9 months+ "recently"? Especially for a daily newspaper? We are just asking.

The article starts with a reference to the recent coverstory in the New York magazine:

ಇತ್ತೀಚಿನ 'ನ್ಯೂಯಾರ್ಕ್' ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಯ ಮುಖಪುಟ ಲೇಖನದ ಶೀರ್ಷಿಕೆ- The United States of America Vs Bill Keller
If you are intrigued by the VK article and want to read the New York Magazine article, you can find it here. BTW, if you read the Vijaya Karnataka article and the New York Magazine coverstory, you may find that it is not just the "ಶೀರ್ಷಿಕೆ" that caught the eye of "ಸುದ್ದೀಶ".

Towards the end of the VK article it is mentioned, rather abruptly without any explanation:
ಅದೇನೇ ಇರಲಿ ಟೈಮ್ಸ್ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಯ ಪಬ್ಲಿಕ್ ಎಡಿಟರ್ ಬೈರಾನ್ ಕೆಲವು ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಕೆಲ್ಲರ್ ಉತ್ತರಿಸಲು ನಿರಾಕರಿಸಬಾರದಿತ್ತು ಎಂಬ ಮಾತು ಸಹ ಕೇಳಿ ಬರುತ್ತಿದೆ.
If you are like us, you would be curious to know about those questions of Byron Calame (ಸುದ್ದೀಶ seems to be in first-name basis with him!) that Bill Keller stonewalled.

We feel that they are interesting --if not important -- questions and hence need a bit of an explanation.

The questions are about the timing of the publication of the NYT story.

The NYT knew about the existance of the (possibly illegal) warrantless eavesdropping program for more than year before it evetually published it in December of 2005. According to some critics of the Bush administration and the NYT, the delay in publishing it might have helped Bush in 2004 elections.

Initially the NYT claimed that it delayed the publication "for a year", seeming to imply that it did not know about the existance of the program before the elections in November of 2004. But, later it was learnt that the NYT delayed the story by 14 months and that it could have clearly published it before the November 2004 elections had it chosen to do that.

Many feel that this may have damaged the reputation and the public trust of The Times in general and Bill Keller in particular.

People get upset with the NYT and Keller when they term 14 months as "for a year". And we rant about VK terming 9 months+ as "ಇತ್ತೀಚೆಗೆ". Notice any irony?!

*** Our post read "2006" instead of "2005". My thanks to the reader --"noora ombattu sullu" -- for alerting us about this.)


Anonymous noora ombattu sullu said...

And for a change, there is one 'factual error' in your post as well!

"The New York Times article was published on December 16th 2006..."


Sep 17, 2006, 3:18:00 PM  
Blogger Sanjaya said...

"noora ombattu sullu",

Thanks for bringing this error to my notice. This has been corrected now.

Sep 18, 2006, 12:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sanjaya, You are fit person to edit panchanga. This is too much. I think you have vicarious pleasure in finding fault. Now I am convinced what Ravi Belagere had written about you - Srinivasamurthy

Sep 18, 2006, 2:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ಅದು ಸುಳ್ಳು ಇದು ಸತ್ಯ ಎಂದು ಯಾವ ಆಧಾರದ ಮೇಲೆ ನೀವು ಹೇಳುತ್ತೀರಿ? ನೀವು ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಯಾವುದೋ ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ಪತ್ರಿಕೇನ ರೆಫೆರೆನ್ಸ್ ಇಟ್ಟುಕೊಂಡು ತಾನೆ ಬರೀತೀರಿ. ಆ ರೆಫೆರೆನ್ಸೇ ಸುಳ್ಳಾಗಿದ್ರೆ! ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಗಳು ಯಾವಾಗಲೂ ಸತ್ಯವನ್ನೇ ಹೇಳುತ್ತವೆ ಅಂತ ಭಾವಿಸೋದು ಸರಿಯಲ್ಲ. ಪ್ರತಿಯೊಂದು ಲೇಖನದಲ್ಲೂ ಸತ್ಯದ ಅಂಶ, ಸುಳ್ಳಿನ ಅಂಶ ಇದ್ದೇ ಇರುತ್ತದೆ. ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಸಮಯ, ಶಕ್ತಿ ಖರ್ಚು ಮಾಡಿದರೆ ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಸತ್ಯ/ಸುಳ್ಳು ಹೊರಬೀಳುತ್ತೆ. ಆದ್ರೆ, "ಇದು ೧೦೦% ಸತ್ಯ/ಸುಳ್ಳು" ಎಂದು ಹೇಳಲು ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಸಂದರ್ಭಗಳಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ಅಸಾಧ್ಯ. ಈರುಳ್ಳಿಯನ್ನು ಬಿಡಿಸುತ್ತಾ ಹೋದಂತೆ ಘಾಟು, ಕಣ್ಣೀರು ಜಾಸ್ತಿಯಾಗುತ್ತಾ ಹೋಗುತ್ತೆ.

ಒಂದು ಲೇಖನದ ಒಂದೊಂದು ವಾಕ್ಯವನ್ನು ಸತ್ಯದ ಒರೆಗಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಹಚ್ಚುವುದಕ್ಕಿಂತ ಲೇಖಕನನ್ನು "ಈ ಮನುಷ್ಯನ ಉದ್ದೇಶವೇನು? ಇವನು ಜನಕ್ಕೆ ಒಳ್ಳೆಯದನ್ನು ಹೇಳ ಹೊರಟಿದ್ದಾನೋ ಅಥವಾ ಉದ್ದೇಶಪೂರ್ವಕವಾಗಿ ವಂಚಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾನೋ" ಎಂಬ ದೃಷ್ಟಿಯಿಂದ ಪರಿಶೀಲಿಸುವುದು ಒಳ್ಳೆಯದು.

ಆದರೂ ಜನಕ್ಕೆ ಸತ್ಯವನ್ನು ಎತ್ತಿ ಹಿಡಿಯಬೇಕೆಂಬ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ ಶ್ಲಾಘನೀಯ. ನಿಮ್ಮ ಈ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನದಿಂದ ಲೇಖಕರು ಮತ್ತಷ್ಟು ಜಾಗರೂಕತೆ ವಹಿಸುವರೆಂದು ಹಾರೈಸೋಣ. ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ ಮುಂದುವರೆಸಿ.


Sep 18, 2006, 5:19:00 PM  
Blogger Sanjaya said...

Srinivasamurthy and "ಅನಾಮಧೇಯ",

Thanks for reading my blog and taking the trouble to leave the comments.


Should newspapers get even the minor facts right -- especially in columns that don't have the same time-pressure as the news reports? Obviously we have differing answers to this question.


No. I do not believe that only English newspapers have a monopoly on getting facts.

As far as reference for facts, while I have used the English newspapers as sources of reference, it is not always so. For many things, I have gone directly to the origin. For example, regarding Kannada Prabha's news story about the World Bank Report, I read the report and then wrote.

>> ಒಂದು ಲೇಖನದ ಒಂದೊಂದು ವಾಕ್ಯವನ್ನು ಸತ್ಯದ ಒರೆಗಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಹಚ್ಚುವುದಕ್ಕಿಂತ ಲೇಖಕನನ್ನು "ಈ ಮನುಷ್ಯನ ಉದ್ದೇಶವೇನು? ಇವನು ಜನಕ್ಕೆ ಒಳ್ಳೆಯದನ್ನು ಹೇಳ ಹೊರಟಿದ್ದಾನೋ ಅಥವಾ ಉದ್ದೇಶಪೂರ್ವಕವಾಗಿ ವಂಚಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾನೋ" ಎಂಬ ದೃಷ್ಟಿಯಿಂದ ಪರಿಶೀಲಿಸುವುದು ಒಳ್ಳೆಯದು. <<

You are right. However, it is easier to cross check the facts; intentions are not. We can only speculate about them.

Thanks for your encouraging words in spite of having reservations about my blog.


Sep 25, 2006, 1:03:00 AM  

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