Friday, January 07, 2011

Today in really, really bad writing

But first, this word from the HEADSUP-L design desk:

1) Don't make yourself do the same thing twice.

2) Particularly, don't make yourself tease twice.
3) Just don't.

But on to the main course!

As the name "Rodriguez" sails quickly into the sunset, another name comes barreling in, splitting the maize-and-blue waters like a battleship.

DiMaggio? Hendrix? Voldemort? I mean, it almost takes your mind off the battleship-as-kitten metaphor.



Until Wednesday, he was a shadow, a looming character in the play. (That's why the top of Monday's front page said "Time for Brandon to make the move"?) Today, Dave Brandon IS the play. All things go through him. He is not just the Michigan athletic director, he is the gatekeeper, the oracle, the latest to wear the ring in "Lord of the Rings."

Bad news, Mitch. That's not how the story works. The lordship of the Rings isn't passed along by the possession, much less the wearing, of the One (Gandalf was pretty specific about that at one point, I think). The "latest to wear the ring" screws up the plan and gets his finger bitten off.

All that came before, he inherited.

All that comes now, he creates.

And his frown and wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command tell ... all right, sorry. Since everything of interest in the column is duplicated in the hed next door, let's just skip to the end:

Rodriguez -- hailed as great when he got here -- had plenty of chances to prove his talents. It didn't happen. Now he's off the hook and floating away, and a new man gets his chance in the hot light.

Which is he -- a fish or a schooner? Is he floating or sailing?

But let's not forget about the design. No editor is going to slow down a  star columnist for sheer stupidity alone, but we might be able to neaten up a few things around the periphery. The trouble with your 1A centerpiece (top) is that you're trying to serve two masters: getting Mitch's almighty name and logo at the top of the page while making sure lots of colorful reefers are above the fold as well. Hence, the story -- to the extent it's a story -- effectively has three bylines: the logo at the top of the page, the "by" inset in the text, and the "Albom analyzes the situation" shirttail.

What about the other promos in the 1A package? Well, those are so you can see what ot columnists have to say! And since (being a Freep reader and a Michigan fan) you have the attention span of a garden slug, you can find fresh reefers on the sports front to the same columns!

So, yes. A designer with a little sand could have kept logo, text and hed together on the front, and a colleague on 1C could have reminded the lesser stars that one reefer a day is enough. (Imagine starting a war among sports columnists; it's like choosing sides in the Iran-Iraq war.)

Isn't that what the readers want, though? Could be. Let's hope that the fans lined up for the Story of the Decade here at least equal the ones who are laughing at it.

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Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Every time you write about Mitch Albom I think it can't get any worse. Every time. (So I'm wrong, every time - which means I'm wrong this time. Which means I'm already shuddering.)

10:22 PM, January 07, 2011  

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