Thursday, March 25, 2010

Generic News Story #1

Something important happened recently, which caused us to assign one of our increasingly scarce staff reporters.

This event had several important implications, which we would put here.

"This is where to put a good quote from a witness, investigator, or participant," said Source #1.

This event had several other important details, such as who else was involved, why it happened, and an exact date and location, which we were unable to wedge into the first two paragraphs, 'cause who wants to read really long opening paragraphs anyway.

"This would be an excellent place for a second quote from some other witness, investigator, or participant," said Source #2. "Unless, of course, the editors say we're short on space, in which case this quote gets cut first."

This event was part of some larger pattern, such as the culmination of a long process, the start of a new process, the first time, the last time, or maybe it was just plain weird.

"This is where to put dispassionate, big picture analysis from some uninvolved expert, professor, consultant, or politician," said Uninvolved Expert #1. "If all else fails, interview some little-known reporter from a niche publication who follows this kind of stuff intensively and is just glad to get some mainstream exposure so his mother knows he has a real job."

But there are always people who disagree with whatever he says, no matter how arcane and uncontroversial the topic at hand might be.

"This is where to put someone - anyone at all - who even tangentially disagrees with your first Uninvolved Expert," said Uninvolved Expert #2. "This is what we call 'balance.'"

Here is where to note that Experts who know something about your event are either still investigating the matter or else declined to comment on the controversy.

At this point, it would be useful to introduce some witnesses or participants, if you haven't already.

"I saw the event, yes I did," Witness #1 said.

And now would be a great time to detail efforts by relevant officials to encourage, discourage, or study the event at hand, with an eye toward causing it to happen again, or not to happen again, or move to some other place in the future.

"This is my top priority until some other significant event occurs," Relevant Official #1 said.

So now it's time to go back to the actual event that we talked about in the first paragraph. Perhaps it is time to say when the involved persons will go on trial, or maybe how long they remained in the hospital, or when the Guinness Book of World Records plans to visit.

"This final quote has no chance of making it in print, although it is a really great quote that totally sums up the entire article," Source #1, 2, or 3 said, "because the copy editors tend to cut from the bottom without regard to how artful and elegant the writer has been in picking a kicker quote."


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Perfect Rock Songs

My friend Geoff has been posting videos on Facebook lately and he went on a Van Halen kick tonight, which reminded me of something - that Van Halen has what I consider the Perfect Rock Song. By this I don't mean the Best Rock Song, but the "perfect." And there is a difference. I never was a Van Halen fan until the summer of 2001, when I lived in California. I had just bought a BWM 323, which was by far the fastest and coolest car I had ever driven, and cost far more than I had any business paying. I had to take a business trip to Fresno for reasons that don't bear the repeating, and very late one summer night I found myself screaming up Highway 99 far in excess of the speed limit. It was hot and dry and I was the only car on the road - only slow-moving semis laden with fruit were in my way. And on the radio came Van Halen's Dance the Night Away. And I was transported. I had never given the song a second though, but at that moment I realized I was happy because it is the perfect rock song. It's shallow, but it's happy, smooth, sexy, and calls up all that's best about being 17 or 18, free, adventurous, and without a care in the world. The guitar is smooth and big and jangly. The beat is slow, regular and - well - perfect. I realized I could listen to that song and drive forever and never, ever, miss where I had come from and never care if I got where I was going.