Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Science of Journalism

I once read an obscure one-act play I came across at a church bazaar. The young protagonist, a budding newspaperman, had just been promoted from obits to ambulance chasing. His first assignment, a fire, had him interviewing a desperate landlord outside his burning apartment building, who was wringing his hands in concern over his tenants, all of whom were safe.

The greenhorn rushed back to the office, typed up the story in a flash and proudly handed it to his editor. The editor took one look at the article and red-lined every word. “You can’t say this!” he scolded. “People don’t want happy news. You’ve got to have drama. Here’s your lede[sic]: ‘Brazen tenement lord nowhere in sight as helpless tenants burn.’ There’s your story.”

The play continues: ‘Whereupon, the hapless reporter was struck by the massive fact that journalism is an inexact science.’

viaThe Telegraph: comments section.


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