Friday, October 28, 2011

An Old Journalist Friend Dies. I Contribute to the Eulogy


Been thinking about this but don't have anything *fine* to contribute. The
thing is with many journalists, you start thinking about them as a brand
that you have come to know, rely on and take for granted. The byline is a
kind of guarantee that the information is solid as is the judgment about
what matters and what doesn't. Choosing the lead, the focus, the frame - you
don't want to spend your "news" time second-guessing the reporter, battling
with the story. Over time you learn who you can trust and who you can't by
which I mean the news story that leaves you unsettled rather than informed.
A matter of trust. So it was with Phil. I "relaxed" into anything he wrote,
if that makes sense. Same thing with writing style. Certain journalists you
know you will enjoy reading the piece for reasons other than content. There
will be pleasure in watching the writer's mind operate when it comes to word
choice, to sentence shape, to metaphor. To be read with confidence, pleasure
and - just that moment before jumping into the old word salad - with
anticipation: oh that's fine. That's an epitaph. Or, to put it another way,
his byline mattered to me as a reader of journalism at those moments when
reading is optional - the headline or to begin the story, just the lead or
the rest of it? (Or perhaps ignore the story altogether and go straight to
the sports!!) I am going to read this right now, all of it, because of the
name at the top. Think how few reporters of whom that can be said. But a
specific story or  moment -  no. Which is a kind of compliment.

No comments: