Cut This Story!

On the Internet, news articles get to the point. Newspaper
writing, by contrast, is encrusted with conventions that don’t add to
your understanding of the news. Newspaper writers are not to blame.
These conventions are traditional, even mandatory.

Take, for example, the lead story in The New York Times on Sunday, November 8, 2009, headlined “Sweeping Health Care Plan Passes House.”
There is nothing special about this article. November 8 is just the day
I happened to need an example for this column. And there it was. The
1,456-word report begins:

Handing President Obama a hard-fought victory, the House narrowly
approved a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system on
Saturday night, advancing legislation that Democrats said could stand
as their defining social policy achievement.

Fewer than half the words in this opening sentence are devoted to saying what happened. —Michael Kinsley, The Atlantic

One reason online articles can get away with providing less context is that they can hyperlink to in-depth examples. Print media can’t do that — when you clip an article from a paper publication, you expect it to be self-contained.

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