Does the NYT Have to Call Trade Agreements "Good" In News Stories?

Print
Tuesday, 02 July 2013 04:37

This is one of the great mysteries of news reporting. No, the NYT didn't literally call a trade agreement "good" in a news story, but it did call it "free" which amounts to pretty much the same thing.

A piece discussing European anger over evidence that Edward Snowden released of U.S. spying on European governments noted that several officials had raised the possibility of breaking off discussions on a "free trade" agreement with the United States. The question is what information does the NYT think it is conveying by including the word "free" in the article.

While there will be some reductions in tariffs and quotas in this deal, the bulk of it will involve setting regulatory rules that have nothing directly to do with "free trade" as it is traditionally defined. For example, the agreement may restrict national and local governments' abilities to impose safety and environmental restrictions on industries operating in their jurisdictions or on the goods and services being sold. It is simply wrong to describe these restrictions as "free trade."

It is also possible, if not likely, that the deal will lead to stronger patent and copyright protections. These are forms of government created monopolies that are the direct opposite of free trade.

Reporters usually complain about lack of space to get out all the information they would like. So why does the NYT feel the need to waste space to include a word that makes the article at least misleading, if not actually wrong.