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March 2, 2007

Is shorter better?

John Stoehr

The editor of the Washington Post, Len Downie, sent a email to his newsroom Wednesday demanding shorter inch-counts. "Writers need to take responsibility for earning every inch of their stories," the memo says. The entire memo is reproduced by the Washingtonian website. Is this smart editing or is this yet another example of the written word aping other forms of media? If it's the latter, why bother? Why would people turn to a newspaper for short writing when they can more easily go elsewhere? Such as Yahoo's use of Reuters and AP in little nuggets of information. Aren't we writing ourselves out a of job? Shouldn't newspaper write longer in order to provide greater, more analytical, understanding?

And last question: Why do news organizations strive to be like their competitors? Shouldn't they be doing everything possible to not be like them? Have we ever heard of branding?

See related post: "Bad Arts Writing: Part 2."

Posted by John Stoehr at March 2, 2007 9:57 AM

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A co-worker of mine says she gave up reading CNN.com when they started using bullets. She said there was so little information that it was a waste of time.

Yes, we should be concise, but we should also celebrate language and give our readers a reason to celebrate with us.

Hamlet may have summed his pathos with "To be or not to be" but he didn't stop there.

Posted by: Bridgette Redman at March 2, 2007 10:48 AM