This week, The New York Times earned some heat from social media users after publishing a story about bubble tea (aka boba) that treated the beverage as a new, exotic discovery.
Twitter users blasted the Times for being a few decades late to the trend. Readers also used the story as an example of why newsrooms need to embrace diversity.
BuzzFeed pointed out that New York City has dozens — if not hundreds — of bubble tea parlors all over the city, which makes the story even more puzzling. The writer, Joanne Kaufman, described her introduction to boba drinks as akin to the first time someone visits Starbucks and is overwhelmed by the options. While there are some parallels that can be drawn, some readers saw the attitude as disrespectful.
Twitter users also noted that just last year, the Times called the bubble tea trend "so 2002," which further complicates the paper's position. Others saw the article as a clear indication that the Times needs to hire more diverse writers.
The story's original headline, "The Blobs in Your Tea? They're Supposed to Be There," also perplexed a few readers. Generally speaking, boba tea shops offer the chewy tapioca balls as an add-on, so people ordering drinks know what they're getting when they're choosing their beverages.
After the criticism, the Times changed the original headline and added an amendment: "Bubble Tea, Long a Niche Favorite, Goes Mainstream in the U.S." The paper also added this apology:
"In retrospect, we wish we had approached the topic differently (if at all)," Ellen Pollock, a business editor, wrote. "There may be a story in the expansion of bubble tea businesses in the United States, but there is no denying the drink has been around for quite a while. And we regret the impression left by some of the original language in the article, which we have revised in light of the concerns."
News that's fit to print is one thing, but fitting in current and relevant news seems to be a big deal, too.
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