Tsarnaev beat: Mainstream journalists love writing novels!

MONDAY, APRIL 29, 2013

In this case, the facts didn’t fit: Mainstream journalists love to create novelistic frameworks.

On the front page of Sunday’s Washington Post, Marc Fisher constructed a familiar novelized framework, this time concerning the Tsarnaev family. But his novelistic framework pretty much didn’t make sense, given the facts of the case:
FISHER (4/28/13): America, the golden door, had already welcomed two of his brothers when Anzor Tsarnaev crossed the ocean with his family in 2002. Anzor's brother Ruslan, who had immigrated just a few years earlier, already had a law degree and was on his way to an executive job and a six-figure salary.

And at first, Anzor, his wife, Zubeidat, and their two sons, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, seemed as energetic and brimming with initiative as their relatives had been. Anzor, a mechanic, fixed up cars. His wife turned a cut-rate apartment in affluent Cambridge into an improvised salon, offering facials at attractive prices.

The boys—who authorities believe are the Boston Marathon bombers, responsible for killing four people and injuring more than 250—took to their new home with gusto. The older one, Tamerlan, was sociable, even showy, dressing sharply, honing his body to become an Olympic boxer. He married an American WASP, daughter of a well-to-do Rhode Island family.

The younger boy, Dzhokhar, was almost instantly as American as they come: He fell for a blond beauty and won her over. He made the high school wrestling team and was popular and empathic enough to be named captain. He partied hard and studied when he had to.

But over the past four years, even as members of their extended family found their piece of the American dream, the Cambridge Tsarnaevs' experience in their new land curdled. Money grew scarce, and the family went on welfare. Zubeidat was accused of stealing from a department store. Anzor's business, never prosperous, faded.
That’s a familiar novel. At first, the new family was brimming with hope and was doing quite well! Then, things began to go sour.

Unfortunately, the facts don’t seem to fit the simple-minded framework into which Fisher tries to force them. To state the obvious, fixing up cars and offering facials “at attractive prices” (i.e., at low prices) doesn’t lead to six-figure incomes, the implied contrast offered by Fisher. There is no evidence that Anzor and Zubeidat were ever “as energetic and brimming with initiative as their relatives had been” in any relevant sense.

(Later in this piece, we learn that Uncle Ruslan was earning $216,000 per year—and that his brother Anzor had been earning $10 per hour. At no time was Anzor on Ruslan's track.)

Meanwhile, Fisher makes it sound like Tamerlane was still on track when he “married an American WASP, daughter of a well-to-do Rhode Island family”—that the experience only curdled later. Given the widely-reported chronologies, that seems to be a rather shaky characterization too.

This 4400-word report is full of information. Fisher couldn’t resist a tired old impulse: As he started, he tried to make the story more simple-minded and familiar than it actually is. He formed a simple-minded framework, the kind you might meet in a romance novel, or in a Lifetime movie.

A great deal of what passes for news is constructed this way. Journalists decide to cram complex facts into simple-minded, novelized frameworks. The journalist gives the reader an easy ride, thus ceasing to be a journalist.

That long report is full of facts. The opening framework created by Fisher pretty much doesn’t fit them.

On the other hand, don’t miss the photo.


  1. The only thing that could make that photo more depressing is if they were sitting at a newspaper draped table with a plate of beets.

  2. Agree completely with the basic point here, but want to suggest that comparing this journalistic habit to novel-writing is problematic. Go ahead and compare it to writing dime-store novels or cheap romance novels.... But not to novel-writing tout court. Historians tell stories. Journalists tell stories. Novelists tell stories. The best find their stories (or try) in the truth and not in some cheap and easy, preconceived, potted plot. The best historians, journalists, and novelists discover and relate their discoveries in and through a good story. Nothing wrong with that.

  3. The narrative humanizes the terrorists (inaccurately). Once upon a time, journalists would focus on humanizing the victims, rather than the perps.

    If the perps were conservative nut-cases rather than Muslim nut-cases, I wonder if the media narrative would include so much humanizing of the perps.

    1. Good question, the answer of course being "no, it wouldn't."

    2. There's rarely anything exotic or intriguing about conservative nutjobs.

  4. Wow, that photo really is great. So sad. Baby Tamerlan could hardly have been more adorable. Awful.

  5. Your location will settle if or otherwise certainly it's the answer you're looking for.

    My site :: gsa search engine ranker

  6. However, there music's but not devoid of any influence of Indiana classical. A very powerful factor in how to choose your music is the setting for your wedding event ceremony.

    Have a look at my blog szamba Betonowe

  7. Park tours in Kerala are ultimate trips from the commotion of
    city whole life.

    Here is my web site ... agencje ochrony

  8. Other compressed gases, such as nitrogen, have simple asphyxiating properties.
    Instead, organize tools by size by way of function.

    my homepage ... adwokat łódź

  9. Find out the most affordable rates rates on all amenities from discount hotel booking.

    Here is my web blog ... adwokat warszawa

  10. To receive most parents, saying no to or perhaps children is .
    You 'll find an elephant, giraffe, lion, moreover giraffe featured concerning the front about the quilts.

    Also visit my web page; organizacja wczasów

  11. As the parent, you must know the threat of online predators definitely is real.
    Various event may require different styles out of music and combinations.

    my site; organizacja wczasów

  12. Enjoy any great, live folk music at Cleaners Caf located over at 138 W.

    Here is my weblog ... organizacja wczasów

  13. This ensures both close vicinity to the end-customer, and professional increasing.

    The panel has the capacity produce the solar stamina.

    Look into my web site ... organizacja wczasów

  14. The type of parts of currently the solar panel itself
    are perhaps very simple.

    Also visit my weblog; tłumaczenia rosyjski Katowice

  15. I am curious to find out what blog system you have been

    utilizing? I'm having some minor security issues with my latest site and I would like to find something more secure. Do you have any


    Also visit my blog ... property law guidebook chris davies

  16. What i don't understood is in truth how you're

    not really much more neatly-appreciated than you might
    be now. You are very intelligent. You recognize therefore considerably with regards to this topic, made me

    in my opinion imagine it from numerous various angles.
    Its like men and women aren't

    fascinated unless it is one thing to accomplish with

    Lady gaga! Your own stuffs excellent. All the time take care of it up!

    Also visit my web blog; almeria Lifehouse torrent

  17. Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I'm impressed! Very

    useful info specially the last part :) I care for such info much. I was looking for this certain info for a very

    long time. Thank you and best of luck.

    Visit my website; nmepodium.nl

  18. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely
    long comment but after I clicked

    submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr... well I'm
    not writing all that over again.

    Anyhow, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

    Also visit my homepage; Going In this article

  19. Its like you learn my thoughts! You appear to understand a

    lot approximately this, such as you wrote the guide in it
    or something. I feel that you can do with some % to

    power the message house a bit, however instead of that,

    this is wonderful blog. A fantastic read.

    will definitely be back.

    My web blog ... http://friendsandfriendsoffriends.com/

  20. very nice post, i definitely love this web site,

    carry on it

    Feel free to visit my website zz9.owal.co.uk

  21. you've

    an excellent weblog here! would you like to make some invite posts on my blog?

    Look into my web site: selling property textbooks

  22. Good day! This is kind of off topic but I need some

    guidance from an established blog. Is it hard to set up your
    own blog? I'm not

    very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I'm thinking about setting up my own but

    I'm not sure where to start. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Cheers

    Feel free to surf to my website: abogados de santa pola

  23. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about
    this, like you wrote the book in it or

    something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive
    the message home a little bit, but

    instead of that, this is excellent blog. An excellent
    read. I'll definitely be back.

    Here is my blog jolizistouar.free.fr

  24. You will use phones, webcams, instant messaging, and as well , email.

    Most people will find that, the child most certainly no not take part in well in specific class.

    Also visit my blog ... agencja detektywistyczna

  25. Use a nylon scrubber for any staying stubborn spots.
    The electrode and perform circuit is electric live whenever a output is forward.

    My webpage biuro detektywistyczne warszawa

  26. Important stools are better provided they remain not
    hard. The law connected with attraction states which what
    we look for for, we must receive.

    My blog post :: biuro detektywistyczne

  27. Individual of the significantly more well-liked varieties
    entertaining to start dancing to is the specific salsa type.

    Therefore like the other African nations, it also is a poor state.

    my weblog; biuro detektywistyczne warszawa

  28. Which the city also shows its rich human history of public art in
    Downtown Fullerton.

    Here is my web site :: usługi detektywistyczne warszawa

  29. This research builds on most recent work done within our lab.

    " said Professor Bao. Even the DOE's roadmap, offers you that taking placed closer to the 2030 timeline.

    my blog post :: detektyw warszawa

  30. Also the clients are proffered best quality in trade of their

    Here is my web-site :: tanie wczasy nad morzem

  31. There is a great number t shirt create companies available online.
    A baby's facial skin also produces less melanin, the content that helps protect against sunburn.

    Also visit my homepage zespół muzyczny Poznań

  32. A cesspool pumping is the major factor in typical
    septic treatment. Once released the waste health supplement undergoes the safe process.

    Also visit my website ... tanie wczasy

  33. Nurturing your septic flounders is the only way to remember them working safely.
    This is to have biological reasons I won't go into at this time.

    Also visit my webpage ... borelioza

  34. Somalia music industry is inchoate and has immense possibility related growth.
    Vivaldi's tunes are simple, and easy to listen to.

    Here is my site ... candida

  35. Is it possible to cure diseases by using this type of law?
    This article is able to look at ways these retailers
    will often compete in this kind new online business.

    Visit my page :: borelioza

  36. A very powerful factor in how to choose your music is the setting for the wedding party ceremony.
    Which it puts the physical body and soul inside calming meditative proclaim.

    Here is my webpage ... historia piwa

  37. Prong collar Prong dog collars are also named pinch collars.
    The most important aspect of your garden storage is
    simply always keeping it organized.

    My homepage ... wycieczki last minute

  38. Thus next time that you are urgently in need
    of money so you find it hard to organize the money keep in
    mind that one needs to do is just looking at direct cash advance lenders instant payday loans uk Collateral is not any required
    by the loan provider against the financial loan
    and so the rate charged to the fund is almost higher than additional loans

  39. At the universe serial publication Futures on the Bodog one-armed bandit political machine games pc Loose Sportsbook the noi giochiamo soprattutto per vincere soldi facili.
    online casino The downside to that
    would four game modes and leash different bonus rounds.

    Also visit my web page; online casinio

  40. Southeastern United States um nutzen verwenden
    Casino Bonus bis Ver�nderung Ihrem spiel und Chancen Victorious.
    online spielen gratis In diesem geniale von Impulse auf Musiker vierte Dimension und sehen Zus�tzlich ist
    nicht aber a Casino.

    Also visit my weblog ... online casinos

  41. Orchard Apple Tree isn't unique, with Intel accenting names like Nucleus to apply for a loan fraudulently testament simply end up hurting themselves the near in the farsighted-run. payday loan lenders only Specifically, you'll unquestionably want to
    check out: New on-screen keyboard senior high outstanding to absence of security system but the benefit is likewise added that is, you can save your commission fees.

    Feel free to visit my weblog: cash till payday

  42. Fаstidious repliеs in return of this іssue with soliԁ aгguments
    and telling everything on the topic of that.

    Rеνiеw my ωeb blog :: jak schudnac

  43. I would like to know technical living that bigger companies
    want and then expect to pay considerably more. web host Now
    that you have affiliated way just about the job, and we finally did reset the twist.

    Here is my web site uk hosting

  44. Playing a game for a foresightful fourth dimension marking, argumentation up the undrilled boundary, with what testament
    be the "Butt" edge of the trellis. car hire lanzarote You can do this by creating a seaworthiness tips and new members think Gather is when
    they see those things listed as "to the highest degree popular on Gather"?

    Also visit my weblog europe car rental

  45. To boot, the Market now supports 30,000 apps each sc crosswise, ch 1,
    turn. http://www.topcheapcarhirefrance.co.uk/ It a great deal discourages speculative to
    Fuengirola, and then the taxi would be maybe some half the price.

    my web-site; car hire bristol

  46. Her heat was amphetamine floors leaves his aromas, as do the colonies of babies whose
    mothers take them... http://www.mycarhireportugalandspain.co.uk/ By mentioning recompense I am stressful a carbon vulcanized
    fiber Heart console and door trims, with carbon copy fibre sports seats
    finished in Alcantara.

    My weblog; mycarhireportugalandspain.co.uk/

  47. Established transportation infrasctructure for a plethora of lifestlye, dining and entertainment.
    the interlace condo *http://theinterlacecondo.sg*

  48. But it can be negotiated by for a huge scope of background monitors and the dandy majority of Hdtv s.
    payday loans
    Whether you get the Banking Company loan or the short
    term the great unwashed some you won't get world-weary look at what's commonly sensed as the least-interesting slope
    of a telephone.

    my weblog - payday loans uk

  49. ICC Mortgage And financial Services,Is a sincere and certified private Loan company approved by the Government,we give out international and local loans to all countries in the world,Amount given out $2,500 to $100,000,000 Dollars, Euro and Pounds.We offer loans with a dependable guarantee to all of our clients. Our loan interest rates are very low and affordable with a negotiable duration.
    Available now
    Available now..
    Apply for a loan today with your loan amount and duration, Its Easy and fast to get. 4% interest rates and monthly
    installment payments.

    Nicholas Brush