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October 18, 2006
Mitch Berg, Editor Extraordinaire

My radio partner Mitch Berg takes on the task of editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a job that apparently became obsolete several years ago at the Twin Cities newspaper. In our interview with Rochelle Olson regarding her October 7 article on Alan Fine, the reporter declared that all of the facts that provided the proper context for Fine's arrest could not fit within the space limitation of the article.

Considering that the article ran to a length of 1,214 words, this seems like such a silly argument that neither Mitch nor I could believe she used it. A newspaper leaves out key facts out of a 1200-word article because they don't fit the paper's view of the story, not because it won't fit into that kind of essay length. To give readers a sense of what that kind of space means, most of the op-ed columns I write have a 700-word limitation for print space.

Mitch decided to rewrite the article within that space limitation to show how easily the Strib and Olson could have presented the proper context for the story. At the end, Mitch concludes:

I've managed to clip 281 or so words - a bit over eight column inches - to make way for about 1.25 inches needed to get the two key facts of the story, the kind of thing journalists and editors are supposed to want to get into the story...into the story! I mean, take out any 45 or so of those words, keep the other 240-odd words, and put the two simple facts into the article...the whole story, or at least a more complete condensation of it, is told!

So if a moron like me can take ten minutes to rewrite the article to include the two other facts important for the reader - especially the CD5 voter - to really know the whole story, then why couldn't the Strib editors?

More importantly why didn't they?

Because, to paraphrase Hugh Hewitt, the Star Tribune covers politics like I cover the Notre Dame football -- as a fan and a partisan. The Strib went looking for a hit piece on Alan Fine, and Rochelle Olson and Paul McEnroe delivered it.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 18, 2006 6:04 AM

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