it’s not unusual

I suppose it’s difficult for journalists to maintain the momentum of a story that continues for months without very much actually happening. Which presumably accounts for the Evening Standard story headlined:

Assange ‘acts like a moody teenager and is hunted by women’

I thought teenagers were mostly moody due to a lack of attention from the opposite sex, but I guess it’s been a long time since my adolescence.

The article reports comments from Vaughan Smith, “who owns the 10-bedroom Norfolk home where Assange is living as he fights extradition”.

I find the use of quotation marks in the headline interesting: the “moody teenager” quote appears to be from the story – i.e. from the writer’s interpretation of Smith’s comments – rather than what Smith said. (Among the comments on the story there is one, purporting to be from Smith, that objects to the wording.)

I’m not sure that the quotation marks are actually incorrect, but they are certainly likely to mislead most readers, and could probably be improved on.

Anyway, what really struck me was the phrase saying that Vaughan Smith “has shed light on the unusual domestic habits of the world’s most famous whistleblower.” Apparently,

“He eats when he’s hungry, sleeps when he’s tired.”

(Shock! horror! hold the presses!)

Again, the idea that eating when hungry and sleeping when tired constitute “unusual domestic habits” seems to be the interpretation of the journalist, rather than directly attributable to Smith. Whoever said it, though, I do wonder how long it has been considered “unusual” to pay attention to the way your body feels, and what makes anyone think this might be newsworthy even in the silly season.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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