BY PHILIP J CUNNINGHAM
The New York Times set the tone for its recent China quake coverage with a devious headline:
“After Quake, Tibetans Distrust China’s Help”
What’s wrong with the headline, affixed to an April 17, 2010 report from China by Times staffer Andrew Jacobs?
Let’s first consider headlines you are unlikely to ever see on the pages of the New York Times or any other decent newspaper.
“After 911, Jews Distrust America’s Help”
“After Katrina, Blacks Distrust America’s Help”
Now take another look at the NYT headline. It’s simply not up to good journalistic standards, is it? In fact it is insulting, if not borderline incendiary.
To say that “Jews distrust America’s help” is to be crude and insensitive. Such a headline commits a double indignity, slyly suggesting that Jews are not really American and Americans are not really Jews.
Ditto for any ethnic group you chose to test the decency of the headline with. Black, white, Irish, Italian or whatever ethnic group you like. It is insulting and it is inaccurate.
And it strikes close to home, so the NYT wisely avoids it.
Now what about China? Ethnic Tibetans in Qinghai are Chinese citizens. Even the Dalai Lama agrees with that.
So what business do the suits on 41st Street in Manhattan have declaring independence on behalf of ethnic Tibetans in Qinghai?
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