The Reader Center is a newsroom initiative that is helping The Times build deeper ties with our audience.
Ellen Pollock, our Business editor, has responded to readers who voiced criticism over our recent story on bubble tea.
We published a feature article on Thursday about bubble tea becoming “mainstream,” which drew criticism from readers on two fronts.
Some thought that the article read as though we had just discovered bubble tea. (In fact, The Times published an article in December proclaiming bubble tea “so 2002.”)
Other readers thought we described the drink, which was created in Taiwan, as strange and alien, and especially took us to task for the use of the word “blobs.”
This is how one reader, Bo Hee Kim, very thoughtfully put it:
The language used in this article, from ‘exotic’ to ‘Far East’ and the unappealing nature of the word ‘blob’ to describe a drink well-known to many Asians and Asian-Americans unintentionally alienates this population from reading this article. It highlights otherness rather than uniqueness, defines familiarity through a nondiverse lens, and for me evokes the unpleasant feelings of being the kid in a nondiverse neighborhood bringing ‘weird’ lunches to school.
The reader complaints have merit. In retrospect, we wish we had approached the topic differently (if at all). 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.
We thank our readers for sharing their views.
On – 17 Aug, 2017 By