Value-Subtracted Reporting

It’s not just shoddy economics reporting that is letting down the side at Fairfax. Their crime writing leaves a lot to be desired as well.

This morning, just before 9am, the Sydney Morning Herald’s website ran an AAP report of a robbery alleged to have taken place in Cabarita Park the previous evening:

The 27-year-old man and 25-year-old woman were sitting in their Toyota Camry in Cabarita Park, in the city’s inner west, when a dark coloured two-door coupe pulled up alongside them about 8pm (AEST) yesterday, police say…

The robbers, aged in their 20s, took wallets and mobile phones before running from the scene through the park.

Police and dogs searched the area but were unable to find any trace of the men, both of whom are described as being of Pacific Islander or Maori appearance.

One has a muscular build and short moustache while the other is chubby with short dark spiky hair. He was wearing a black head band, black jacket and dark pants.

Check out how the Herald’s Stephanie Gardner managed to mangle these simple facts in the paper’s own report, posted at 11:26am:

The couple were sitting in a car in a known “lovers’ lane” near Cabarita Park, Cabarita, in Sydney’s north west about 8pm yesterday, Burwood Local Area Command duty officer Inspector Michael Boutouridis said…

The first robber was described as being aged in his 20s with a muscular build and a short moustache.

He was wearing a red beanie, dark hooded top and dark parts.

The second man was described as being aged in his 20s with a chubby build and short dark spiky hair.

He was wearing a black headband, black jacket and dark pants.

So in the space of two and a half hours, the Herald has managed to move Cabarita from the “inner west” to “Sydney’s north west”; while it’s not really in either (to call it “inner west” is a misnomer as, according to Google maps, it is 14.6km away from Central Station, further out than even Strathfield, which is a 13km drive) one description is lazy while the other is completely wrong.

Not only that, they’ve managed to cut crucial details about the offenders, suggesting a return of the old Men of No Appearance Gang.

I’d pass this on to the Herald’s vaunted “Reader’s Editor” (herself a woman of little appearance as her columns are damn hard to find on their website). But she’d probably figure out a way to tell me my reading of this was in fact my fault.

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3 Responses to Value-Subtracted Reporting

  1. The Usual Suspect says:

    It is your fault, everyone knows Cabarita is “inner west.” In fact the inner west stretches way past 14km from Central. Recently someone told me Auburn was “inner west”. Though admittedly he was a real estate agent trying to sell me a charming working man’s cottage for 1.4 mil.

  2. ar says:

    Not just facts mangled, but less readable too.

    Hmm, from the original report, why would robbers turn up in a coupe and then flee on foot?

  3. Pingback: Geographically Challenged | Prick With A Fork

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