"This is part of a longer article that I read last night. It's written by Michael Kinsley a columnist for The Atlantic. His article, called Cut the story, said many things. Of that, this I thought would bring some violent nods from fellow writers...
Quotes from outside experts or observers are also a rich source of unnecessary verbiage in newspaper articles. Another New York Times story from the November 8 front page provides a good example here. It’s about how the crackdown on some Wall Street bonuses may have backfired. Executives were forced to take stock instead of cash, but then the stock went up, damn it. This is an “enterprise” story—one the reporter or an editor came up with, not one dictated by events. And the reporter clearly views the information it contains as falling somewhere between ironic and appalling, which seems about right. But it’s not her job to have a view. In fact, it’s her job to not have a view. Even though it’s her story and her judgment, she must find someone else—an expert or an observer—to repeat and endorse her conclusion. These quotes then magically turn an opinionated story into an objective one. And so:
“People have to look at the sizable gains that have been made since stock and options were granted last year, and the fact is this was, in many ways, a windfall,” said Jesse M. Brill, the chairman of CompensationStandards.com, a trade publication. “This had nothing to do with people’s performance. These were granted at market lows.”
Those are 56 words spent allowing Jesse M. Brill to restate the author’s point. Yet I, for one, have never heard of Jesse M. Brill before. He may be a fine fellow. But I have no particular reason to trust him, and he has no particular reason to need my trust. The New York Times, on the other hand, does need my trust, or it is out of business. So it has a strong incentive to earn my trust every day (which it does, with rare and historic exceptions). But instead of asking me to trust it and its reporter about the thesis of this piece, The New York Times asks me to trust this person I have never heard of, Jesse M. Brill.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Large wooden louvered doors would lead us out into the corridor and then down the stairs into the landing that has even been mentioned in history. You walk out of that college, grasping a piece of that history between your index finger and thumb - hoping to do something sensible with it.
And yet, we walk out doing exceptionally inconsequential things that alters the course of nothing. For years, we follow a routine of some haphazard kind - meaningless. And yes there is pressure, for at least 10 years of your life, and you can't do anything to curb that. Unless you are born with a silver spoon delicately placed between your teeth, you will be made to feel to guilty for your existence - unless you're using wads of cash to shut people up.
So anyway, like me, you'd have wandered around, hoping to find some people you like and some like-minded people to work with - do something that's driven with passion and sense. And you find the one thing that a hundred others would kill to have.
Once that ends, like me, you'll wander around a bit more - doing things that don't make sense, to anyone and especially, to you. So you choose something that's easier. Find a boyfriend. Romance can keep reality out of your head for a while. Once that romance doesn't work out, you wallow and move on. Everyone moves on. Some move on to better things and some, like me, choose nothing over nothing.
Eventually, about eight years later, you'll be doing something that will definitely make you money (not enough though) but you won't find that 'G" spot - the thing that makes you grin, glad and go.
You'd be told various things because at the end of the day you're earning a living for someone else. You're earning on behalf of a large conglomerate that, trust me, wants to talk about everything important but drives you to believe that only the 'fake' survive. Incidentally, the people who've been used to represented the 'fake' segment are real by themselves. Even with all their silly smiles, they are real people, with real dreams, broken hopes and a real story to tell.
From wanting to be a poet for a newspaper at the age of 10, I've perhaps evolved to a stage where I'd like to write something that makes more sense to you - and to me.
There will be no advertisers to be afraid of because I don't have to pay anyone for this. This is my story - for you. To you. In your name. This story will be different from many others I've written.
From spending time alone on one rain-driven evening to raising toast to a sibling who's tying the knot thousands of miles ago - I want to know it all. I want to know your story.