NSNC Board Member Brinkley under Fire

By Ben S. Pollock
Director of Online Media, 2010-12 president
National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Joel Brinkley

Joel Brinkley

Joel Brinkley, 2012-14 education chair of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, has come under fire for his column dated Feb. 1, 2013, that compared the diets of several Southeast Asian countries. Brinkley, a Pulitzer Prize winner for international reporting, discussed the continued preference by some Vietnamese for dog and rat meat, comparing evidence of malnutrition in nearby nations.

The amount of angry comments drew the attention of media news aggregator Jim Romenesko, who on Thursday, Jan. 31, published a brief on the issue, “Joel Brinkley Defends his Vietnamese Diets Article.”

Brinkley, a former New York Times foreign correspondent who now teaches journalism at Stanford University, answered Romenesko’s query, saying in part, “I was traveling in Vietnam in late December and early January, and this is what I saw with my own eyes, first hand. And this is what the people I interviewed told me. On the issue of meat and aggressiveness, perhaps that was not as well phrased as it should have been. But eating a diet rich in protein will make you more robust than others. …”

The jimromenesko.com piece itself drew many comments as did its posting at Facebook. Brinkley forwarded his own photo of pans of rat carcasses being prepped for cooking by a woman seated on concrete, which Romenesko published.

Tribune Media ServicesRomenesko updated his post the evening of Feb. 1 when Tribune Media Services, which syndicates Brinkley, issued a disclaimer that the column “did not meet our journalistic standards.”

“TMS has a rigorous editing process for its content, and in the case of Brinkley’s column that moved Jan. 29, all the required steps did not occur,” the company said.

Readers should find it informative to consider not only this column but the other three that Brinkley published from his winter trip to Southeast Asia. [This article will be updated as information warrants.]

The winter 2012-13 Southeast Asia columns of Joel Brinkley

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2 comments for “NSNC Board Member Brinkley under Fire

  1. Deborah Carter
    February 3, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    “The amount of angry comments”? Ouch. You mean the NUMBER of angry comments, right? That’s as bad as “between you and I.”

    • February 3, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      You are right! But I like “amount,” because anger is quantifiable :)

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