Annals of Journalism — Don’t Do That edition

Via BarbinMD over at the Great Orange Satan I learn that Dean of the Washington Press Corps™ David Broder just committed this sin against the gods of the press:

While terrorist bombs were blowing up in the Moscow subway, Washington was enjoying a week of unusual peace and quiet. Congress was in recess, and the tumult and shouting were blessedly muted.

Ignore, for now, the rest of the mailed in (and empirically threatened) column; it’s standard fare from this particular writer at this late stage of his career, a plaint that the world isn’t somehow more like the one he imagined some more perfect past to be.

Instead, notice the howling awfulness of the lede graf quoted above.

It falls into a known category of bad journalistic writing.  At the BBC current affairs program Panorama it used to be called “The Not Quite 500 Miles Transition.”  As in:

Not quite five hundred miles from where Mr. Bloggs was mincing the postman with his lawn shears, Mrs.Dinsdale was eating a jelly sandwich.

Memo to aspiring ink-stained wretches:  coincidence in time between two otherwise utterly unrelated events doth not an edgy, grabbing intro make.

It’s just lazy writing.

Don’t do it.

Image:  Norman Rockwell’s first magazine cover, 1913.

Explore posts in the same categories: bad writing, Journalism and its discontents

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One Comment on “Annals of Journalism — Don’t Do That edition”

  1. Dean Says:

    Apparently this form of bad journalism has a distinguished history dating back to Carl Jung. I just happened to be listening to the classic album “Synchronicity” by The Police… “many miles away, there’s a shadow on the door, of a cottage on the shore, of a dark, Scottish lake.”


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