Journalism education and tips for journalists

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Stockholm Spectator

Example One: "Hiphoppen rumsren"

The following article—a short piece on the mainstreaming of hip-hop culture—was the first of Peter Borgström’s dispatches to arouse our suspicions. It was Media Watch's email inquiry regarding "Hipphoppen rumsren" (reprinted above) that provoked a fleeting—and ultimately unenlightening—correspondence with Dagens Nyheter's culture editor Lars Linder.

Like many of Borgström's articles, "Hiphoppen rumsren" is a chaotically reconstituted version of a much longer New York Times report, stripped of its original nuance and byline.

The Times piece, written by culture correspondent Lola Ogunnaike, was published on January 12, 2004. Peter Borgström filed his translated (and truncated) version three days later. Dagens Nyheter’s adaptation was printed without a reference to Ogunnaike's original report or the New York Times.

In all of the following examples, the Times originals are listed first (in black), with Borgström's versions below (in red). For those interested, English translations (of Peter Borgström's translations) are forthcoming, though the Times originals are usually sufficient. In most cases, they are nearly identical.

* "On the song 21 Questions he even plays up his tender side. 'I love you like a fat kid loves cake,'..."

"Rapparen 50 Cent skaldar numera ömsint: "Jag älskar dig som en fet unge gillar kakor"

(Media Watch Note: Borgström offers an accurate translation of the Times story: "tender" is rendered literally as "ömsint")

* "Missy Elliott, on her single Wake Up, raps: "If you don't got a gun, it's all right."

"Missy Elliott sjunger i sin tur att det är okej att vara obeväpnad."

* "'Ja Rule is probably being purchased more in a mall in Virginia than on 125th Street,' [Nelson] George, the author [of Hip-Hop America], said."

"Hiphoppens kärnpublik må finnas i stadsgettona, men det är inte på 125:e gatan i Manhattans Harlem merparten av skivköparna finns."

(Media Watch Note: Here Borgström passes off a quote from Nelson George, author of "Hip Hop America," as his own)

* "Murder Inc. (now simply called The Inc.) is not the first label to rechristen itself. Death Row, the West Coast outfit that made gangster rap a multimillion-selling commodity throughout the early- to mid-1990s, changed its name to Tha Row..."

"Skivbolagen snyggar upp sina namn. Av 'Murder Inc' blev det 'The Inc', av 'Death Row' blev det 'Tha Row'."

* "Andre 3000, the avant-garde half of Outkast, now favors seersucker pants, saddle shoes and Brooks Brothers blazers. Big Boi, the hardcore half of the duo, is now partial to 1970s-inspired tuxedos"

"Till exempel klär sig André 3000 70-talsaktigt i byxor av kräppad bomull"

(Media Watch Note: This is a confused bit of plagiarism. As the Times notes, it is Outkast member 'Big Boi' that "is partial" to the "1970's-inspired" wardrobe, while "Andre 3000" affects a 1950's country club look. Borgström has it backwards.)

* "50 rarely seen without a snug-fitting tank top."

"...50 Cent i metrosexuell tanktop..."

(Media Watch Note: In a pitiful attempt to Swedify an overused hipster colloquialism, Borgström claims that 50-Cent often wears a “metrosexual tank top.” For those blissfully unaware, "metrosexual" is the ubiquitous, media-coined slang term describing a heterosexual male with the lifestyle instincts of a homosexual male. It's flatly absurd to suggest that the menacing rapper is in anyway "metrosexual," simply for flaunting his overdeveloped upper torso. In fact, Mr. 'Cent', in a fit of sub-literate candor, recently told Playboy Magazine that he "ain't into faggots. I don't like gay people around me, because I'm not comfortable with what their thoughts are.")

* "Some, such as Nas and Ja Rule, have scaled back on the bling."

"Nas och Ja Rule har skippat "blinget"

* "Jay-Z...says: 'I don't wear jerseys/I'm 30 plus/gimme a crisp pair of jeans' and 'button-ups.' Button-up is slang for an oxford shirt."

"Jay-Z föredrar nytvättade jeans och oxfordskjorta framför träningsoverall."

* "Wal-Mart won't stock your album if you're too gangster."

"Men varuhuskedjor som Wal-Mart vägrar sälja skivorna om de finner texterna anstötliga"

* "...rappers are now hawking everything from soft drinks to deodorant..."

"...vill man också dra fördelar av kändisskapet med reklamkontrakt för deodoranter och läskedrycker..."

* "And 50 Cent saves his raunchier, more belligerent rhymes for mixtapes -- sold on street corners and in specialty stores -- releasing more restrained, radio-friendly singles for mass consumption."

"Texternas våldsförhärligande må ha trappats ned och blivit radiovänligt. De ocensurerade versionerna, det vill säga de som inte är avsedda för masskonsumtion, kan köpas av gatuförsäljare och i specialbutiker"

Lola Ogunnaike, "Sweeten the Image, Hold the Bling-Bling," New York Times, January 11, 2004
Peter Borgström, "Hiphoppen rumsren," Dagens Nyheter, January 15, 2004


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