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What I hate about American journalism technique

What I hate about American journalism technique

One of the things drilled into me (not by choice) during my Louisiana State University journalism course was that for a feature story, an opening paragraph should ease you into the article in a warm cozy manner, emphasising the human interest angle. To me, that comes at the expense of the story itself – or “burying the lead” to use the American media parlance. This CNN.com story shows what I mean. (Spotted via Boing Boing)

There’s a huge 2,000-ton pile of cow manure in Nebraska that self-ignited and has been burning for three months now. Interesting enough, surely? That’s your lead.

But not according to CNN/AP. Their first sentence reads: “Urban dwellers who enjoy dining on filet mignon at five-star restaurants would probably just as soon not know about David Dickinson’s dilemma.” That sentence goes nowhere near towards the amazing heart of the story. There’s a huge pile of burning shit somewhere in Nebraska.

Then again, presumably my fellow classmates are somewhere doing their American media thing, and I’m not.

Update: The fire has now been put out. *phew*

3 Comments

  • Sadly, I prefer the ABC article’s intro:

    MILFORD, Neb. Feb 23, 2005 – It took nearly four months, but to the relief of neighbors miles around, a burning manure pile has been extinguished.

  • Is it a coincidence that you mentioned "American journalism" and "shit" in the same posting? I think not.

  • But not according to CNN/AP. Their first sentence reads: "Urban dwellers who enjoy dining on filet mignon at five-star restaurants would probably just as soon not know about David Dickinson's dilemma." That sentence goes nowhere near towards the amazing heart of the story. There's a huge pile of burning shit somewhere in Nebraska.

    I've been laughing for 5 minutes now. You should start a CNN paraphrase blog.

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