My Authors
Read all threads
BACKGROUND: I’ve been meaning to talk about this for ages. One common reason why journalists and other people in the media sometimes get cranky when people ask lots of questions about what they’re written is that by the time you’ve seen it they’re completely over it...
For the audience, the story is the beginning of their process. Remember that stupid Fairfax slogan, was it? “Start a conversation” That means buy the paper and YOU go off and chat amongst yourselves. It doesn’t mean we want to talk to you. :)
For the journalist, it’s the end of the process. They’ve done research, they’ve written a draft, they’ve argued with their editor, they’ve filed, they’ve changed what the editor doesn’t like, they’ve sulked — and then it’s the end of it and they have to move on to the next thing.
So by time you’re asking questions, the journalist is meant to be thinking about something else, and indeed wants to be because they’re flushing out the birth pains of the damn thing.
To put it bluntly, having to re-explain or justify lots of details, or re-litigate the arguments they’ve made in their analysis (if it’s that kind of piece) is a pain in the arse that doesn’t get them any KPI points and they’re certainly not paid for it.
I can see that some of you want to talking about other common reasons for the grumpiness, and the other “sometimes”. Yes, yes, but that’s not what this thread is about. #notalljournalists #notallgrumps Some are just self-righteous cunts. But back to this thread...
Sadly on The Twitter and elsewhere, it can be difficult to tell when someone asking questions is simply being curious, or whether they have an axe to grind, or are contrarian pricks, or whatever. Tone is hard to read, and how it’s read can come down to the mood of the reader...
So if the recipient of your curiosity is tired or stressed, or if the particular story has been a pain to write, or even if they’re not happy with it to begin with, no matter how polite you think you’re being, you’re simply not someone they want to listen to right now.
So two more points, and then I’ll end this thread and ignore all of your replies because I hate you all. :) No, three.
1. News and news analysis is written in a hurry to tight deadlines. It’s not going to be perfect. Sure, things might have been expressed better, but there is is. Press publish. Move on. If you want leisurely research and peer review, read academic writing.
2. One of the most annoying comments to receive is “You didn’t mention X” when the story is about Y. Here’s the thing. If you already know X, then there’s probably already a story about it, which means it’s not news. You don’t repeat every single thing in every single story.
2A. Obviously this doesn’t apply if what you’re suggesting is a relevant fact that hasn’t been reported before that can be supported, not just a hand-wave “But we all know the Minister is corrupt”. Your reckons aren’t good enough.
I’ve forgotten what the third one was. I’ll add it when I remember. But yes, some journalists are just cunts because some people in any line of work are just cunts. You’ll just have to deal with that. I mean, we do.

End of thread, for now.
3. I remembered what the third thing was. The people quoted in a news story, or the documents cited, often aren’t the only people or things informing the story. Indeed, before online news you couldn’t link directly, and space prevented spelling everything out in full. So...
3A. Broadly speaking, statements of fact in a news story are there because the editor is satisfied that they’re true. There might be a document. There might be human sources. But they’re not always described. In an ideal world they might be, but then such stories tend to bloat.
3B. Sometimes a fact has become so well-established that it doesn’t need to be repeated. There’s np need to cite a source to say that the Royal Easter Sow was first run in 1823. Or that trains on the Inner West Line run every 10 minute*.

* For example, you tedious pedants.
Another example. It’s OK to write something like. “Continuing reports of heavy traffic on the M4” if you’ve heard this from a dozen people who actually drive the M4 (as opposed to being told by their mates).
Obviously the threshold for stating something as a fact varies from writer to writer and, more importantly, news outlet to news outlet. You’re kinda on your own here, but one mistake doesn’t necessarily mean ill will.
Obviously this should be Sydney’s “Royal Easter Show”, though I do like the idea of the annual running of the Royal Sow, like the running of the bulls in Pamplona.
Another example is stating as a fact something that’s on public record. “The Minister misled Parliament about the contract”, because, well, she did. Because Hansard shows that she said it was signed in February but it was later found not to be true.
3C. Finally, sometimes things are stated as facts because the writer or a colleague was a witness or otherwise knows from personal experience. So here’s a story...
A now city-based journalist wrote that a certain number of civilians were killed in a certain battle in a certain town. They were challenged with an angry “How do you know that?!”

“Because I counted them,” said the former war correspondent.
Sucked in. I just made that up. :) End of thread.
Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh.

Enjoying this thread?

Keep Current with Stilgherrian

Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!