‘Anybody here been raped and speaks English?’

Who is the best judge of a foreign correspondent? The readers, editors and bosses of the foreign correspondent? Or the residents (and critics) of the places the foreign correspondent is reporting from?

Surprising as it may sound, Amit Varma contends that it is the latter, and offers by way of evidence a Washington Post report on the cheer leaders of the Washington Redskins turning up for the Bangalore Royal Challengers in the Indian Premier League.

Varma calls the report by Emily Wax, “a piece of lazy journalism”, “sloppy hackwork”, in which she gets the basic facts of the game wrong (“Twenty20 cricket condenses nearly a week of match play into three hours, with shorter “overs”), and piles on all the usual cliches and preconceived notions that have become the bane of reporting from the subcontinent.

“In my view, the best judges of that are not peers or bosses, but the residents of the places you are reporting from. To someone who does not know India, this piece of hers must seem full of insight and telling detail, instead of the sloppy hackwork that it is. But who cares what the natives think?”

Read the full article: Of shorter overs and billowing swimwear

Also read: The land of a thousand bad newspaper articles

If our reporters are sloppy, what about theirs?

Photograph: courtesy Washington Redskins

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