Magazine article The Masthead

Celebrate Traditional Excellence

Magazine article The Masthead

Celebrate Traditional Excellence

Article excerpt

Imagine spending three consecutive days doing nothing but reading the best work of 78 editorial writers. If that sounds a little daunting, multiply by 10 and you're talking serious seat time. Fortunately, daunting efforts, once completed, always seem to have their rewards - as did the experience of serving this spring on a nominating jury for the Pulitzer Prizes.

Many of you have done some form of this as a contest judge - as have I. For me, though, it was a new and revealing exercise to read, evaluate, and discuss the art of editorial writing in such concentrated fashion. It was an experience that struck me, and my four juror-colleagues, as illuminating. It also made each of us think about what we might want to change back home.

A first glance at the motley jumble of notebooks on our table made me wonder how many would contain editorials about the Clinton scandal. After all, the year-long saga occupied an unusual amount of editorialists' thoughts last year. Diving into the mix, however, we found a great number of other worthy subjects - a sampling of which you've seen in this issue. The five of us (two editorial page editors and three newspaper editors) found ourselves frequently complimenting (should this be surprising?) work that demonstrated traditional editorial excellence. Some of the most compelling pieces weren't about the scandal of 1998, weren't examples of the most expensive or complex projects. Instead, they were clean, clear, ringing calls for a wrong to be righted - or a potential wrong to be averted.

Happily, many of them made a difference. Sadly, few attempted to comment on the world beyond the United States. Whatever the subject, the editorials that brought a gleam to the eye and an exclamation to the group tended to be clear, fervent, and repeated expressions of opinion - i. …

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