Trib story needs to clear the air



They dont know either . . .
  • They don't know either . . .
A Tribune story Monday datelined Beijing gets off to an intriguing start:

"A large swath of China has been gripped for days by what is being called an 'airpocalypse,' a prolonged spell of the worst air pollution on record in Beijing."

Called by whom?

Is this what the locals have dubbed it? In that case there's a bigger story hereā€”the rise of English as the universal language of grass-roots sarcasm.

No one's quoted in the story but Zhao Zhangyuan of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences. If the quip's his, don't you think he deserves credit for his ability to get off a good one in a second language?

The mystery deepens. Monday also brought this report from NPR on the same smog. Reporter Louisa Lim begins, "Here in Beijing, they're calling it the 'airpocalypse.' . . . " Lim talks to several people for the next four minutes, but no one calls it an airpocalypse, and she doesn't say who did.

I'm still looking. On the website, I spot the headline: "Airpocalypse: Pollution Levels in China Hit Record High." Says reporter Laura Sinpetru, "Some people have gone as far as to argue that the country is facing a so-called airpocalypse."

It's a shame. Credit should go where it's due and somebody's not getting it. A taxi driver showing off? A sassy secretary at the American embassy?

One other place to look. Nope, no answers there either.

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