Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Give it up

The New York Times published an article last week about the ‘growing trend’ of Americans renouncing US citizenship. But in true sensationalist style, it was over-reporting on an underwhelming issue.

The article states that 743 expatriates renounced US citizenship last year. This would be remarkable if it didn’t comprise less than 0.01% of the 5.2 million Americans living abroad. Not one percent. Not even one-tenth of one percent. One-one hundredth of one percent. In fact, these 743 folks represent a mere 0.0002% of the total population of approximately 309 million American citizens. Based on those figures, I'm not sure I would call this spate of renunciations an epidemic.

I have to assume it was a slow news day.

What’s even more disappointing is that it wasn't just over-reporting - it was actually re-reporting. Virtually the same article was written by another NY Times journo back in 2006. Like, really… the same article. I would write my freshman level college students up for lack of originality had they pulled a stunt like this. I get that sometimes you have to recycle a story, but, come on… the same anonymous Swiss resident business executive and leader of a political interest group were the only two sources each NYT journo could find over a two and a half year stretch?

I’m all for a little hyperbolic reporting (heck, I get most of my news from Perez Hilton and the Daily Mail, so I don’t judge), but at least make it significant. And, for the love of Pete, make it original.

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