Coverage of the attack on Jesse Ryder

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If you haven’t already seen, Jesse Ryder is in an induced coma after being assaulted. He has a fractured skull.

We aren’t going to write too much about this, because the site is the wrong tone for that kind of news and therefore it just doesn’t seem appropriate. For similar reasons, we’d like to ask that news outlets refrain from using Twitter updates instead of actual quotes when reporting on this story. It’s a habit they’ve got into when covering cricket, but sport can accommodate the throwaway nature of a tweet far more comfortably.

We’ve read several reports of the Ryder incident which have republished tweets, such as this one from the official New Zealand Cricket Twitter feed:

It really undermines the message when you see the stupid Twitter handle. Plus, it just doesn’t seem sufficiently earnest to use Twitter at all. When players tweet that their thoughts are with him, it almost feels like an advert for their compassion because they’re broadcasting their feelings, rather than sending them more directly.

We’re sure that’s not the intention; it’s just the nature of the medium – which is precisely why it’s better to keep that jarring tonal shift away from news reports.


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  1. Oh amen to that. I don’t doubt the sentiments are genuinely felt but the scramble every time to express publicly one’s sorrow at bad news invariably has that advert feel to it. By definition, are those of us who choose not to comment considered less compassionate?

    No decent thinking person could fail to be appalled by what has happened to Jesse Ryder and all will wish him a full recovery. Surely that goes without saying.

    1. ps I don’t mean to suggest that everyone who expresses their sorrow at bad news is doing so purely with an eye to their public persona. Only that there is an element of that with some & I don’t want to be judged adversely because I choose not to (assuming anyone ever noticed!).

    2. I agree with that, Sarah, and with what KC says about not writing about it. I always feel uncomfortable with the idea that as a cricket fan I should be more upset at an attack on a cricketer than on an accountant or a bus driver. What’s happened is awful, not made any more so because I’ve heard of him.

    3. I don’t know about that Bert. A cricketer gives joy to countless others beyond his immediate circle, and in addition to concern for his physical health, the cricket fan feels sorry for the loss of such talent too. I don’t know Jesse the man, but feel I do “know” Jesse the cricketer, and fear that we may never see him in action again.

      The attack *is* made more awful by happening to a cricketer who has enriched our lives more than an accountant or bus driver does.

    4. I agree entirely with the view that a public outpouring can seem, perhaps not always insincere, but often inappropriately conveyed. It’s like a chain reaction of ‘who can come up with the most retweetable quotation’.
      As for Ritesh: this is what is wrong with so many people’s outlook. An accountant, doctor, recruitment consultant, teacher or cleaner contributes as much (if not more) just without the misguided financial recompense of sportspeople. Role models are not so because they are famous.

    5. Rash judgment I am afraid, Thomas. Of course we all agree that everybody, no matter what the profession, contributes to society. Ritesh was just expressing the opinion that a cricketer, with whom we have “shared” many highs and lows, is somewhat more relatable, and an attack on him is thus perceived to hit home more directly, so to speak. This doesn’t mean that we are incapable of empathy toward everyone in equal measure. At least, that’s what I understood his statement meant.

  2. I read something recently that was similar to this, regarding the shenanigans happening in US breakfast TV, where (amongst other things) the co-host of one channel (now pushed out with a $12m golden handshake) was denied permission to tweet a sympathy message for the co-host of the other channel who was starting cancer treatment (This Morning vs. Anne & Nick, this isn’t).

    In itself, a stupid thing to ban someone from doing, but why did that person need to use twitter anyway? Why not call her, or send a card? Why did she want to use a trite public tweet?

    Anyway, hope Ryder recovers speedily.

  3. I suppose people in our society are still getting used to media such as Twitter and even web sites like this one, KC.

    These media are still very new.

    As for the banality of Twitter, you shine a light on that each week at Cricinfo – the “Tea Tea” piece last week was a classic of that series and made me laugh a lot.

    I think it is human nature, Bert, to feel more sympathy for someone you know, or know of, than you feel for a complete stranger.

    If you were to witness such an incident, however, I suspect that would make the victim proximate enough to you such that you would not perceive the victim as a stranger and it would weigh on your mind heavily, be the victim a bus driver, accountant, cricketer or Twitterato.

    As for Jesse Ryder, of course I hope that he’ll make a full recovery, not that my well wishes or thoughts really need to be stated, as Sarah said!

  4. Agree with all that has been said above. Surprised Edwina Currie hasn’t chimed in yet with her verdict on the incident.

  5. A platform is as genuine or banal as the message it is used to convey. A while ago when there were riots in Bombay and many people were stranded on the streets, twitter was a great medium people used to escort these people to their friend’s (or friend’s friend’s) houses nearby so they don’t stay out long. The messages there were most serious and genuine.

    That said, I do see your point though. I just wanted to point out that we could, if we wish, use it for serious stuff as well.

    1. Of course Twitter can be used well. It’s just its format lends itself to short, throwaway lines, so you tend to associate it with that sort of tone.

  6. Interesting argument. People feel the need to express their immediate reaction to news like this by using Twitter, because they’re in the habit of using it. Before Twitter, maybe we just would have told someone how we feel. Or kept it to ourselves.

    In terms of journalists using Twitter to fill a news story, I have to admit I’ve been guilty of that before. But I agree that genuine quotes and information are much more appropriate in cases like this. Generally Twitter quotes should only be used in pieces directly related to social media or when someone won’t respond any other way – e.g. a politician’s online gaffe.

  7. Is the medium the issue or the glib banality. I cringe on the television news whenever any statement is preceded by “first of all I’d like to say how our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families” whether the speaker is an investigating officer who is in a position to pass those sentiments on personally or an NRA spokesman who only cares for the political capital to be gained or lost. Such forced formulaic triteness can never sound sincere, even of the speaker is trying to be genuinely compassionate, whether on twitter, Fox news or Cricinfo.

    Bert’s point is surely one we all wrestle with at some point. Objectively, how can any of us give a second thought to Ryder, or Tom Maynard when there is rape and slaughter in Syria or Darfur or Mali, but I don’t think in lessens our humanity if we do.

  8. I blame Princess Diana.

    Something broke in the collective psyche of the UK when we were supposed to (and seemingly, millions did) go into mourning over the idiotic death of a spoilt rich moron none of us knew. The country hasn’t got a grip since.

  9. I wouldn’t want you to go away, daneel, but it does seem a little harsh on Princess Diana herself – blaming her for being a spoilt rich moron and blaming her for her idiotic death and blaming her for the collective insanity that broke out across the nation (and beyond) when she died.

    Harsh to the point of even being unfair.

  10. “a spoilt rich moron none of us knew”

    you seem to think you knew her pretty well.

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