Annals of Journalism — Don’t Do That edition
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.