Here are the lead-ins to the six stories on the front page of the June 13 edition of The Post:
"Soul Khalil woke with a start. Her split-level home in Burke was shuddering. . . ."
"A hard rain had fallen most of the night. Xu Juxian, a wiry farmer's wife. . . ."
"Ellen Saracini lost her husband. . . ."
"Like the first summer love of your youth, the Washington Nationals. . . ."
"The fourth-grade girl with shoulder-length cornrows looked out. . . ."
"Minutes before showtime, the man in charge sits in a VIP reception area above the stage, sipping a Grey Goose on the rocks. . . ."
Okay, at the risk of revealing myself as a former J-school cranky pants, what happened to the traditional, who-what-where-when-why-how lead? Are your reporters no longer taught to follow that approach? Have your editors abandoned it in favor of irritating, essay-style reportage in hopes of attracting a younger demographic? Are you trying to make the paper longer to sell more ad space? Where's the news in all that front-page verbiage?
When I pick up The Post I read the first paragraph or two of a story, then decide whether I need to keep reading or whether I've learned enough to move on to the next item. I'm sure I'm not the only person who does this. I don't think most people read the newspaper in its entirety every morning, and eliminating the traditional, just-the-facts lead makes this quick-scan approach impossible.
I mean no disrespect to the individuals profiled in these stories, some of whom have suffered terribly. But writing every single piece on your front page in a style once reserved for soft-news stories diminishes rather than enhances its effect. If I want to read a well-told tale with interesting characters engaged in cosmic struggles, I'll pick up Shakespeare or Dostoevski. When I pick up The Post I'd like a little less infotainment blah-de-blah and more straight news with my morning coffee.
-- March Dodge