Saturday, August 25, 2007

we know reality is complicated, thanks

A headline on 1A in today's New York Times: "Giuliani Boasts of Big Surplus; Reality is More Complicated."

I have one reply. Groan.

In television news, you might hear such things. But that's because 'cliche' goes with television news like milk with cookies. Despite desperate attempts..what went wrong when..he was a loving father; she was a loving mother...what started out as, escalated into..police were out in force today; firefighters responded to the scene.

If "reality is more complicated" appears in the story, it's often due to laziness. Searching the Grey Lady's website, I found the phrases "reality is more complicated" or "reality is more complex" appearing each about annually in the paper. (Of course, a standard leftist narrative painting opponents as dumb or simplistic sometimes propels Times stories too.)

We know reality is complex and pay journalists partly to simplify it. Still, twice a year in a paper doesn't seem so bad. But copy desks, which write headlines, are paid almost entirely to distill an already-distilled story down to a 50-character headline.

So "Giuliani Boasts of Big Surplus; Reality is More Complicated"? Give me a break, or at least something intelligent. Maybe "Giuliani Boasts of Big Surplus; Monitors Say That's Misleading." Though we could also go with "Giuliani Boasts of Big Surplus, First Time He Doesn't Mention 9/11," I like that better.

(the story is here, the web headline has been changed to "more complex")

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