Saturday, July 18, 2009

Suspected Journalism

This Swedish news story might well belong under the “cultural enrichment” heading, but it’s hard to tell, because the reporter is constrained by so many journalistic rules, conventions, and taboos that what actually happened is difficult to discern from the newspaper account.

Zonka has translated the brief article from Aftonbladet, and has this to say by way of comment:

The following story is curious on several levels. First, it emphasises that the perpetrator spoke “British English”, however with an accent that would make it unlikely that he was from the UK. What were the clues? Did he use the words “bloody” or “jolly”?

Secondly, why use the word “suspected” instead of “allegedly” or “supposedly”? Was it a fantasy, or was there supporting evidence that points in the direction of either a rape or a frivolous rape claim?

Also take note of all the reservations made in the text: the incident might well have taken place in Latvia, and she might have been mugged and not raped for all we know from this piece of “journalism”.

At least the journalist should have been able to establish the place where the incident took place — did it take place in Stockholm, did it take place on Mäster Samuelsgatan or somewhere close, or did it take place in Belfast or Moscow? Is this what passes as journalism these days in Sweden?

And now the translation from Aftonbladet:

Suspected rape of a pregnant woman

Happened during the night
- - - - - - - - -
A pregnant woman is suspected of having been raped the night before Friday.

The rape allegedly took place in central Stockholm.

The pregnant woman, who is in her 20s, was allegedly raped on Mäster Samuelsgatan in Central Stockholm.

The perpetrator is described as a 25-year-old man with short dark hair. He was muscular and dressed in jeans.

He spoke British English, but the woman didn’t think it sounded like it was his mother tongue.


Cucurbitae Caput said...

Perhaps the assailant was from the Indian sub-continent and spoke that peculiarly anachronistic form of British English left over from the Raj (see for example the Pakistani newspapers that refer to terrorists as "miscreants"). Given that it would be racist even to mention the rapist's ethnicity/colour, such linguistic clues become all important.

Zonka said...

Well, my pet theory is that it is one of those linguistic throwbacks from the outbacks in the penal colony of New South Wales :-)

laine said...

Guess we've come back full circle to such repression by the authorities that we have to write in code or allegories or use other literary devices so as to have plausible deniability when we're dragged in front of the nearest "hate" tribunal.

Right now the Internet provides some access to the unvarnished truth but the authorities are working on fixing that starting with Australia's banning over a thousand sites "for the public's good". It's the book burning of the 21st century.

Soon we may have to revert to underground pamphlets like the samizdats passed on secretly and on pain of imprisonment or even death during communist times.