The title of the Reuters article is condescending and inaccurate. “Hemingway haunt offers discounts to ‘poor Americans,”” was one of the most-viewed articles on Yahoo, and while the story itself is accurate, the tone set by the title makes it seem like snooty Europeans are once again wagging their fingers, singing an Italian na, na, na, na, na and looking down from their high Euro-perch at “poor” Americans.
Here’s the gist of the story: The owner of the legendary Venetian eatery—Harry’s Bar—is concerned by the falling dollar and his conspicuously absent contingent of American tourists. To make dining at Harry’s more financially palatable, Arrigo Cipriani has offered to discount their bill by twenty percent.
In the Reuters piece, he is “is offering a discount to “poor” Americans suffering from a weak dollar and subprime blues.” But I looked in Italy’s major newspapers, and Cipriani was quoted extensively, but he never uttered the word “poor.”
Cipriani from la Corriere della Sera:
«Poiché quest’anno la stagione si prospetta, mettiamola così, un po’ tranquilla, e il dollaro Usa sta andando a precipizio, ho pensato bene di favorire temporaneamente quella fascia di persone che ci apprezza e ci segue da tanti anni»
“Because this year, the season looks like it will be a little smoother, and because the U.S. dollar is falling, I thought to help momentarily those group of people who have appreciated and followed us for many years.”
I don’t know, maybe I missed the point of the Reuters article and felt like it was more condescending than it actually was, and perhaps I’m overreacting a bit. Maybe misrepresenting his quotes and adding words to create headlines isn’t all that big of a deal. But far too often, I’ve seen a European event miraculously transformed as it’s translated.
An embellished quote might not be that big of a big deal, but it represents a naughty temptation which is utilized far too often to slant and mischaracterize a story.