Saturday, October 27, 2007

Zombie editor stalks Arkansas

How should you not put together your 1A column of doings of the notable and weird? Well, you could start by assuming it's not the cop blotter:

Laura Bush, 60, visited about 700 servicemen at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait, telling them that the American people stand by them in the Iraq war.

The thing about narrowing down the focus of an immediate-identity lede (as, ahem, the writer might have internalized if he or she had continued paying attention in that all-important first week of J2100) is that we want to focus in a relevant direction. We don't need to distinguish the abovementioned Laura Bush from all the 58-, 59- or 61-year-old Laura Bushes wandering around Kuwait and the other gulf littoral states. We want to distinguish her from all the ones who aren't married to the president of the US of A.

Instead, we send an immediate signal to all our readers (of a paper that, kaff-kaff, charges five clams a month for online readers who aren't already victims of the dead-pine-tree edition) that we're mildly bereft of clues. The approach works, sorta, when you're dealing with people your readers have never heard of, as in the first two of these examples:

But "Laura Bush, 60"? Why not just call her "Laura Bush of Washington" and have done with it?

(OK, you hate to pick on the DemGaz, which is still putting international news on its front page just on grounds that it's interesting and important, unlike some big-city dailies we could name. But let's try to cut out the zombie editing, OK?)


Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

I must say, the addition of the age after her name made me believe it was some other Laura Bush. It really did. That's so weird, that they would do that.

11:46 PM, October 27, 2007  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home