Saturday, June 25, 2005


So what happened? Did a cliche tanker overturn just upstream from Vox's water intake? Did we have a contest to see who could hit the softest and everybody lost? Was Friday the deadline for the Planet Mxyzptlk Scripps-Howard Bizarro Lede Contest? Or is there some other, better reason for the raftload of shopworn ledes in this week's Vox?

Question: What does Missouri have in common with Texas, Virginia and Oklahoma? (p. 5). Hell, I don't know. Overinflated sense of own cultural importance? Multiple geography-based isogloss bundles? Widespread tendency to mistake Roast Beef With Ketchup for barbecue? (Oops, there goes Virginia.) Capital punishment is a reasonably interesting topic. Let's go ahead and mention it in the lede.

The best gifts always come in small packages (p. 7). Well, it could have been worse. How could a lede like this be worse? It could have said: "As the saying goes, the best gifts always come in small packages."

It is a premise universally acknowledged by many people that when a book is made into a movie, the book is usually better (p. 11). If you're going to steal a lede, don't be coy. Have enough respect for the original to put some energy into it. "Universally acknowledged" means a lot more people than "many" (as "must be in want of a wife" is more definite than "is usually better"). This one might have escaped if only it had dropped those pesky qualifiers. As it is, it's down in the fourth or fifth circle with It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Which a cautious 306er would render It was the best of times, but for some, it was the worst of times. Which someone on the copydesk will then change to It was the best of times. However, for some, it was the worst of times. The road goes ever on and on.

News out of Columbia doesn't normally involve strong women, good-looking men and above-average children (p. 18). First off, tarry not but slay any lede of the genus Not Your Typical, Doesn't Normally or Most People Don't. Second, c'mon: If there's any place where "normal" is one standard deviation above the mean, it's Columbia. Above-average children and their hackneyed counterparts are exactly what the news around here does involve.

That's a pretty hefty cliche load for one week. Against it, the Missourian proper can only muster a "For some" (Thursday) and a "Help wanted" (Friday). Let's call this one a draw and start keeping these things out of the ecosystem. I hear they breed.

You guys are kidding, right?
Somebody really ought to mention this one, from Vox's "It figures" feature:

15: Migrant workers injured in a car accident just west of Columbia. They paid $500 for the ride from Los Angeles, and five of the 20 passengers were killed.

I'm trying to think of the circumstances under which nobody in the whole damn room would have twigged to the idea that this is in appalling, execrable taste for Vox's weekly dose of the trivial, coy and self-referential. So far, I'm coming up blank.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home