A note to my local paper regarding a wire story it published Sunday – October 18, 2015
A Gordian knot in Sunday’s paper was not the responsibility of any Examiner staff. However, untangling it is a great study for all journalists.
The Tom Sellick article in the TV Preview is a classic example of Too Much Information. The lead contains more roadblocks than any highway project. It throws a bare chest to the ancient rule that parentheses and dashes stop the reader cold. Then it throws in a plethora of commas to further confuse the reader.
All this in the second sentence!
“Two years. Where you been?”
“It’s actually been three years-plus in real time, but those are the first words spoken – by William Devane, back in his role as a therapist – to Tom Selleck’s (and late novelist Robert B. Parker’s) loner-lawman title character in ‘Jesse Stone: Lost in Paradise,’ the new Hallmark Channel movie reviving the franchise in which Selleck made eight previous films for CBS.”
It seems newspapers have chucked the old rule about keeping leads short and to the point. Now, it becomes a challenge to see who can throw in ALL Five W’s ASAP!!! Sigh.
Isn’t their some guideline about sentence length? The longer the sentence, the steeper your drop in keeping the reader? The Sellick sentence is over 60 words long! That is at least twice, if not three-times, the length suggested by my old AP Style Guide!
What is the average reading grade of your reader? BA/BS or above? Maybe that is why readership is down – because the normal guy and gal on the street can’t muddle through it!