Thursday, June 12, 2008

Old Reporters

Some old reporters should just hang it up and edit copy. But they don't. They become columnists. Which means they're given the job of filling a chunk of space with meaningful and creative words. Chances are digging and scooping were the skills that got them success as reporters. Those will be useless in a column. Chances are wordcraft and vivid writing never were strong suits, and what reserve they had of those skills dried up long before they retired from reporting -- and into the job where those skills are essential.

Pick any one you like: There are dozens of these lame warhorses around. My pick today is Marianne Means I find her column titled "Being "an outsider' can be a problem" on the wire, but not online. It is about Sen. Obama. IN it, you can read this graph:

Nobody argues he's not a different kind of pol.The missing element in this picture, however, is that too much newness can begat naivete about the way that power politics works and what makes the big players tick. It takes years of experience and listening at keyholes to fathom the underground financial and emotional connections that can control decisions made for supposedly other, more noble motives.

If you survive the howler of a present-tense "begat," if you rewired the double negative sentence correctly without it blowing up, just try to sort out the images. There's a picture. With a missing element! (Rhetoricum, perhaps.) There's ticks! And keyholes that you listen at to ... fathom, which is measuring the depth of water, but you're doing it underground, somehow.

Gardening. Is a lovely hobby for retired reporters. I highly recommend it. Or fly-tying. You can mutter all these gobbly things to yourself while you putter.