Sunday, August 28, 2016

News values and news language

It takes a lot of the worry and frustration out of news judgment when you have a few simple rules to move things along:

Editor A: What's the lead story for tomorrow?
Editor B: Dunno. Who did the Big Man meet with?
Editor A: Sounds like a lead to me!

(As the examples at right suggest, some habits made the transition from print to online with few or no changes needed.)

When you can get three separate stories out of a single appearance by the Big Man's campaign manager on your Sunday talk program, there's even more Fox to go around! This charming eggmanteau in Sunday afternoon's top story, for example:

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Sunday that the Republican presidential nominee now plans to go directly into African-American communities to deliver his full-forced appeal to black voters, while also trying to explain Trump’s changing policies on illegal immigration.

I'd certainly agree that it's a forced appeal, but "full-forced" looks like it slept a little too close to "full-throated." Maybe we meant the NRC definition? (And yes, it's unusual not to have at least a tortured attempt to fit a first reference for a presidential candidate somewhere in the story.)

“These events are already being planned,” the newly-promoted Conway told “Fox News Sunday.” “We’re fighting for every single vote. He’s going to take [his message] to where people vote.”

To be sure, Trump over roughly the past two weeks has increased his efforts to appeal to black voters, arguing that the policies of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and those of other Democratic lawmakers have failed residents in many U.S. cities, particularly African-Americans.


Hmm. I appreciate the effort to get back to J-school basics, but are you sure that's the right "to be sure" there? What about it, The Missouri Group?

The 'To Be Sure'
To maintain an evenhanded approach, writers must acknowledge that there are two or more sides to a story. We call this the "to be sure," as in "to be sure, there are other opinions."

So -- more like the third graf of what was to become the evening's top Big Man story?

Donald Trump’s campaign confirmed that the candidate is off the campaign trail Sunday to get ready for his first presidential debate with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton but was mum on preparation strategy or likely tactics.

“He's the unpredictable X factor,” campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on “Fox News Sunday” about Trump and his unconventional debate style.

To be sure, Trump, despite being a first-time candidate, performed well enough in the primary debates -- which included seasoned debaters like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- to capture the GOP nomination.


Got it! And instead of binders full of women, we'll have -- women full of binders?

“He's an unconventional candidate,” Conway said. “And he's not going to prepare the way Hillary does, which is . . . locking her in a room and cramming her head with all those binders and getting the Hollywood types that she raised gazillions of dollars with in fundraisers.”

I think my favorite, though, is this policy transition from the mainbar:

Conway also attempted to clarify Trump’s immigration policy, which at the start of his campaign included plans to build a wall, paid for by Mexico, along the entire southern U.S. border to keep out illegal immigrants and have a deportation "force” to remove the estimated 11 people now living in the country illegally.
 

OK. It's not nice to pick on a single dropped word, because there but for the grace of God and all that. But come on, kids -- it's the Big Man's signature issue.

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