Just My Cup of Tea
With all the sad things in the news, I offer as an interesting distraction this piece from The New York Times about tea growers in Darjeeling, India, winning the legal right to control the use of the Darjeeling name and prevent it from being applied to teas not grown in the region. And how, you may ask, does this apply to publishing? Well, to me, the connection between a good cup of tea and a good read is a strong one—I rarely have one without the other!
The Internet as Real-Time Correction Machine
The Connecticut school shootings were a nauseating reminder of the unspeakable violence one gun-toting individual can inflict on families, a community and a nation. There's a grim but instructive comparison to be made between this massacre and an attack on 22 young children in China also carried out Friday. In that case, the lone assailant used a knife; there were no fatalities.
Amid all of Friday's horror was a media-generated side show of misstatements, rash conclusions and rumors reported as facts. At various times throughout the day the public was informed Adam Lanza's mother was a teacher at the school; that a brother and girlfriend were missing; that the shooter was let into the building by the principal. None of these things, it turns out, were true.
A few well-timed screen shots are all Adam Lanza's brother, Ryan, needs to bring a libel case against the many news outlets initially identifying him—without qualification—as the shooter. A sample erroneous statement from the website Mediaite, from 2:31 p.m. Friday: "The Connecticut school shooter has been identified as Ryan Lanza, 24." (As a newly-minted public figure, the case would not be won, but still, what a nightmare for someone dealing with his own family tragedy.)
Of course, the Web corrects falsehoods as efficiently as it creates them. Rumors have always spread like wildfire during a crisis; it's easier today than ever before to have them debunked. It's also easy to let even the worst tragedies dim in our consciousness as new stories come down the 24-hour news pipeline. Let's hope in this case that doesn't happen.
- James Sturdivant