A Rule of Journalism: Don't Assume

By Pollack, Joe | St. Louis Journalism Review, March-April 2009 | Go to article overview

A Rule of Journalism: Don't Assume


Pollack, Joe, St. Louis Journalism Review


The byline in the Post-Dispatch read Bryan Burwell. The dateline read Glendale, Ariz....

But where was Burwell?

His Sunday column, on the day after Mizzou lost to Connecticut and was ousted from the NCAA tournament in its quarter-final round, pointed out that the team had just suffered the pain that was on the verge of being intolerable (which meant it was still tolerable), the kind of pain that accompanies a sudden death.

Burwell went on, "The Connecticut Huskies, not the Missouri Tigers, were still out there on the basketball court, cutting down the nets, laughing and hugging and high-riving themselves silly...."

Again, where was Burwell, because the Huskies didn't cut down the nets, which means Burwell was somewhere else, and just guessing that the Huskies were not only cutting down the nets, but also deserving of a cheap shot. When I read that in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I remembered that on the night before, while reading about the game on an Internet site, the Huskies said they ignored the net, waiting, perhaps, to do the snipping a week later after they won it all. In an effort to make certain, on Sunday morning I also read The New York Times coverage of the game.

Its staffer wrote: "Connecticut didn't cut down the nets after the game, a sign of unfinished business.

"'Hopefully, we'll have a chance to cut them down somewhere else,' guard A. J. Price said."

Again, where was Burwell? After all, the Post sent three writers and a photographer to the game and there were supposedly editors back home to make sure that the writers got things right. The game ended early enough for someone to see the same story on line that I did, and there was plenty of time to make necessary corrections. And it's an editor's job to check these facts. Obviously, no one was watching Burwell's back.

Or perhaps someone on the copy desk did it deliberately. It would not have been the first time in Post history. Many years ago, the newspaper's classical music critic was Frank Peters, a splendid writer who won a Pulitzer Prize for criticism. But he was extremely sensitive to corrections made by the copy desk, and spoke his dissatisfaction in no uncertain terms.

Anyway, one night Peters made an egregious mistake with a misplaced modifier. His sentence, a review of a piano soloist with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, read like this: "The soloist (I don't remember his name) played the encore on his feet. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

A Rule of Journalism: Don't Assume
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.