Monday, December 04, 2006
When we assume — and cut — too much
Too often stories take some information for granted, leaving out context and asking readers to fill in what's missing. This problem seems to be particularly common in coverage of sports and politics. Copy editors can fill in those gaps and use caution when they trim wire stories.

The example here is from the sports world. (Here is the full version.) In addition to exactly what Jeremy Shockey said, here are some things that need to be explained, at least in passing:
  • Shockey is a tight end for the New York Giants.
  • Shockey's number on the team is 80.
  • Bill Parcells is the coach of the Dallas Cowboys; he is also a former coach of the Giants.
  • The "horrific collapse" refers to a recent game in which the Giants squandered a 21-0 lead.
  • The Giants and the Cowboys are playing in a game that will make a significant difference in the standings in the NFC East.
Without these elements, this story is hard to follow and probably only understood by the ardent fan. Audience is a consideration as well: Perhaps New York readers know Shockey's number, but what about readers in North Carolina?

Dallas, by the way, defeated the Giants on Sunday despite Shockey's prediction.
posted by Andy Bechtel at 10:31 AM | Permalink |