Sunday, 10 November 2013

Simplicity in Words

One of the better commentaries of the year....comes from Chuck Raasch over at RealClearPolitics.  The discussion?  Writing true-to-life descriptions of events has dissolved over the past one-hundred-fifty-odd years.  We are a lesser society because of it.  If you have five minutes, the read would be worth the effort and lead you to pondering.

Up until the 1920s, we were a society that generally passed information around by word of mouth, by written notes, or by newspapers.

Newspapers tended to hire people who weren't journalists.....they were merely people who knew a good story, how to tell it, and kept it within the view of the reader.  Today?  Newspapers tend to hire journalism-degree individuals, who have been impressed by their professors over some mythical way of leading the reader around to some view, some direction, or some vision.  The story might not be accurate or plainly descriptive, but it sure does read good.

A Tale of Two Cities is a wonderfully built story, with imagery and simplicity.  Charles Dickens wrote around twenty such stories.  He wrote to the reader....giving them a vivid picture of what was going on.

Dickens leads off in the story with: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way."

That was an introduction that carried the bulk of the rest of the story.

In WW II.....Ernie Pyle was sent off to cover the war in Europe for the Scripps Howard newspaper chain.  Prior to the war, Ernie got a reputation as a traveling journalist who simply walked into the middle of something, asked questions, and then wrote a five-star piece on a apple stand at the junction of two highways, and the success of the apple stand.

People were entertained by Ernie's style of description.  Ernie could have written a 88-word piece on the refreshing taste of a Coke on a hot July afternoon in Jacksonville.....leading the reader to smile over simple words, wit, and vision laid out.

Ernie went off to Europe, and for months...wrote of the war, American soldiers, their daily dilemma of sore feet, bad chow, the humor that survives even in the worst of situations, and the acknowledgement of guys passing on in a noble effort.  Folks believed in Ernie's words and descriptions.

Today?  Most of the big-name guys for journalism or the news media....make money off politics.  No one interviews farmers much.  No one can ask forty questions of a tugboat captain and captivate the nation with a two-hundred line story.  No one from CNN can arrive at a bar-fight in Orange Beach and tell a terrible woeful tale of two dead guys that all started over a NCAA football argument.

Yeah, it's true.  We were better off in 1865 in telling a story....than we are today.  Sadly, we've become less, instead of more.

1 comment:

Don said...

Also during WWII, Kilroy gained worldwide fame for writing in the most unusual places that he had been there.