Casablanca – On Monday, MWN published a news story entitled, “Morocco: A Man Arrested for Raping 70 Women.” As its title already implies, the news story was on a 50-year-old man who was arrested for raping and robbing 70 women, aged between 6 and 45 years old. The article provided details on how the suspect had selected and subsequently raped his 70 victims.
The article was anything but a piece of news one would want to read on a fine day—an article that calls forth the most unbearable feelings: disgust, insecurity, fear and alienation in a world that is increasingly becoming human-unfriendly.
The initial title of the news story featured a typo: “rapping” instead of “raping.” Due to the acute pressure on the writers and editors in MWN, a Moroccan news outlet that indefatigably endeavors to present its faithful readers with the maximum, quality content, despite the outlet’s frustrating budget shortage, the outcomes sometimes mirror a lack of support and recognition, rather than a lack of professionalism and mastery.
Few minutes after the publication of the article featuring the typo mentioned above, it drew many readers’ attention and stirred versatile reactions. As surprising as it may sound, most readers found fault not with the heinous way in which 70 women were raped and 6-year old young girls stripped of their innocence, but rather with a typo that escaped both the writer’s and editor’s scrutiny.
What does that tell us? It is perhaps the death of content, exactly similar to “the death of the author” in the reader-response theory of criticism. In today’s globalized, and highly consumerist world, even readership could not stand immune against the plague of “superficialization.” While content (substance and meaning) in various human productions is increasingly being trivialized, form, appearance, conventionality and visual appeal are gaining ground and are gradually being prioritized.
Who had anticipated that a typo would clog both our critical thinking and introspection? Is it also the death of constructive debate and criticism? Since when could grammatical conventions, typos, orthographical deviations, visual asymmetry, appearance, and many other orthogonal visual and methodological details divert our attention from today’s illustration of how humanity is gradually becoming inhumane? Did we watch, read and write enough about rape, for example, that the most shocking stories on it have become so corny?
This article does not intend to retaliate against those who pointed out a typo in one of MWN’s recent or previous articles—at all!. On the contrary, MWN wholeheartedly welcomes and tolerates all sorts of criticism and feedback, for there is always something valuable that we can extract form them to work on our weaknesses, and subsequently head towards excellence.
This article draws the readers’ attention to that same issue that academia has been striving against for ages, which is the plague of consumerism that has proved to be boundless and unrestrained, to the extent that it is now clogging one of our most important mental activities: thinking.
Reading has been plagued by the philosophy of consumerism as well. Just as some people shop for the sake of shopping, or merely to imitate those “fashion gurus” we now come across everywhere, some readers now do the same. A reader today can unthinkably prioritize the form of a piece of writing over its content. Indeed, language conventions are to be respected for a piece of writing to be taken seriously and for it to “own” that first impression stage. Yet, form on its own does not constitute the significance of a piece of writing—unless in literary writing.
Let us go back to the recent news story on rape, which almost stirred a polemic among certain readers due to a typo that was left uncorrected in the title. Instead of reading the news story, dissecting its content and reflecting on the issue it addresses, some readers focused all their attention on the typo. Had the readers gone beyond the title, they would have realized that the word “rapping” in the title did not reflect an inconsideration towards what I call “the writer’s duty,” which consists of proofreading your writings rigorously before publishing them; it did not also reflect a lack of mastery of the language of writing, since later in the article, the word “rapist” is written correctly and does not duplicate the typo in the title—such inconsistency in the article shows that the mistake in the title was rather a typo since it was not repeated afterwards.
I, the writer, could not have written that news story without thinking of my little 3-year-old sister, my mother, my female friends and relatives, and all other women or young girls I love. Yes, for a journalist in progress like me, whose impartiality and neutrality are also still in their embryonic stage, the concern shifts easily from “writing” on a dreadful phenomenon to “telling” it, as though I were one of those 70 victims.
Most articles on MWN are written by contributors non-native speakers of English. Correspondents for MWN are simultaneously contributors and editors, and most of them had not received any prior training in the realm of journalism. Their interest in writing for MWN merely sprang out of a personal faith in the ambition of its founders to kindle the slightest change in Morocco as well as encourage positive change in the world at large through online journalism.
The budget shortage, the lack of contributors, sponsors, and valuable supporters, in addition to the innumerable parallel commitments that MWN’s founders, editors and contributors already have are all limitations that MWN is aware of and is progressively improving thanks to the incessant support, feedback as well as the criticism of its readers.