When a big story breaks — like, say, a major arrest foiling a frightening terrorist plot in peaceful Canada — the first question anyone wants to know is “who?”. Who did it? That is, after all, the first of journalism’s five Ws: who, what, when, where, why (and how).
But The New York Times on my doorstep this morning didn’t bother answering the who question in its story today until a spare mention of “Islamic” in the 22nd paragraph and “Muslim” in the 31st and even those were not terribly informative. In the fifth paragraph, the suspects were merely “mainly of South Asian descent.” India? Burma? Thailand? Indian? Southeast? Southwest? French-speaking terrorists from Vietnam coming to join their Quebecois confrÃ¨res, perhaps? Who’s to know?
The Times wasn’t the only one. I heard the report on radio and they didn’t answer the first W, either. This is not journalism. Journalism answers the most basic questions, especially the tough ones.
A later story in The Times used the word “mosque” in the lead. Well, that helps.
Various stories also fell over themselves to say there was no known connection to al Qaeda. So? Is that the exclusive franchiser of islamofascist terrorism? And one of the Canadian stories I read said that a man with ties to al Qaeda came to the courthouse. Sounds like a link to me.
In World War II, we called the enemies Krauts and Japs and far worse.
Maybe we need a nickname for terrorists to get around the new PC effort not to offend anyone esxcept Americans. Islamofascistmurderingnutjobs, perhaps?