Tag: Wall Street Journal

Robert Thomson, a Journalist’s Journalist, Explains Why a Lot of Journalists Ought to be Spanked

 

Since becoming a copyboy back home in Australia at 18, journalism is the only life Robert Thomson has ever known—and he has made a brilliant career of it as a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times, editor of the Financial Times, editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal, and now chief executive officer of News Corp, the newspaper company, built by Rupert Murdoch, that owns more than 150 titles.

When I interviewed him for Uncommon Knowledge, I tried to get Robert going on journalism-as-a-noble profession.

Science Confirms Judeo-Christian Worldview, Or, Dalai Lama, Call Your Office

 

One of the most basic observations of comparative religion is that the difference between Judeo-Christian religion and Asian religious systems, such as Buddhism, resembles the difference between a line and a circle.

In Judaism and Christianity, reality has a beginning and an end. It’s linear. It’s going somewhere. Both beginning and end are mysterious, the former rendered, mythically, in the creation story, the latter represented, at least in Christianity, in the thrilling if baffling formulation that “time shall be no more.” The beginning is believed really to have happened and the end is believed to really be coming.

How to Write a Lead

 

shutterstock_13795741Yesterday morning, the lead article in The Wall Street Journal started with the following paragraph:

More than 95% of Crimeans voted to break way from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, according to preliminary results, in a referendum that raises the stakes in the most acute East-West confrontations since the Cold War.

The headline read, “Crimea Votes to Secede, Join Russia.” Underneath the sub-headline read, “Overwhelming Support to Separate From Ukraine Raises East-West Tensions; U.S. Prepares Sanctions.” Think about that for a second. Then, ask yourself what is wrong with that lead and with those headlines. Suppose for the moment that The Wall Street Journal is a newspaper. Suppose that its aim is to inform its readers about what is going on. Then, rewrite the lead and the headlines so that the story actually does what it is supposed to do. This is, I think, a useful exercise — for it raises a question of some importance. Are there any editors at The Wall Street Journal worthy of the name? For those of you who have no experience in writing for a daily newspaper, let me add something. The newspaper is written under the presumption that readers are in a hurry, that very few readers will get past the first few paragraphs of an article, and that one should never, never, never bury the lead by putting the most important information in the body of the article. So think about this article in this fashion. What is wrong with the lead?