Monday, November 17, 2008

Where's The Lede? Tamar Lewin Edition

Looking for the real news in Tamar Lewin's story this morning about American students going to study abroad? Check out the chart alongside it.

Lewin's account of the annual report by the International Institute of Education tells us that there's been a 25 percent increase in students traveling to China for education. Hmmm, guess that's kind of interesting, sort of, maybe. Not.

It goes on to interview experts and analyze in detail China's sudden rise in American students -- even though, as the story acknowledges, many other countries get more Americans studying abroad (i.e., Britain, Italy, Spain and France). The story also notes that China only had the fifth-highest increase in the number of Americans studying there.

Now that's odd. Why are we reading about China, then, and not about number one? And what was number one, anyway?

That would be Equador, with an increase of nearly 30 percent. How much space did Lewin devote to reporting and/or explaining that fact? None. And where was the Equador figure reported? Only in the graphic accompanying the piece, titled, "Looking Beyond Europe."

It's unclear why Lewin overlooked the Ecuador increase; maybe China seemed sexier to write about, or maybe she couldn't figure out the reason for the unusual jump in American students going to the tiny South American country, or maybe five is her lucky number.

Color us conventional, but it would stand to reason that when doling out coverage and attention, the first place finisher ought to come before whoever got the somewhat less-coveted fifth-place slot.

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