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It's OK to use the same word twice. Really.

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by inthesuburbs, Feb 24, 2009.

  1. inthesuburbs

    inthesuburbs Member

    What makes this 2nd graph unreadable?

    "Lincoln rallied to defeat Harrison on a last-second shot by Tamika Joyce, who had missed half the first half because of a broken fingernail.

    "The first half belonged to the Purple Wave...."

    Who the F are the Purple Wave? We had Lincoln, and we had Harrison, and now we have, suddenly, a third character, the Purple Wave. But which team are they?

    I see this error frequently We're reading a state tournament wrestling story, and can barely keep track of the half dozen teams with several competitors. And then the writer, just to "mix it up," throws in "the Green Giants" on second reference -- but forgets to tell us which team that is! Is this being taught in newsrooms?

    Somewhere there's a 10th-grade English teacher who said, never use the same word twice. Result: The banana, on second reference, becomes an elongated yellow fruit. But often clarity is sacrificed, and the reader of a sports story can't tell who the writer is talking about.

    The home team in a small-town newspaper. The Dallas Cowboys. OK, we know who they are. But teams from out of our area, please don't assume.
  2. ArnoldBabar

    ArnoldBabar Active Member

    I'm equally troubled by the sentence preceding it.
  3. I often try to use a construction like "Lincoln's Purple Wave" at some point to indicate which team that is. But, yeah, with high school stories, it can be very distracting.
  4. Charlie Brown

    Charlie Brown Member

    I'm guessing the Purple Wave is the team that lost, because the winning team rallied for the victory, and the first half belonged to the Purple Wave, according to the story. Seemed pretty obvious to me, but I could be mistaken. But yes, I think a lot of writers could do better connecting team names to team nicknames.
  5. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    It's usually clear in context, but generally you are right.
  6. inthesuburbs

    inthesuburbs Member

    You're right, Charlie Brown, in my made-up example I made it pretty obvious. Usually is not. In a wrestling story last week, I saw several schools in one graf, and then in the next graf one of them (I suppose) was the Purple Wave, and I had to spend some good time on Live Search just to figure out who that was. I knew it wasn't one of the two local teams, but I didn't know which of the four out-of-town teams it was.

    Writers do it with a coach's name, too, naming the coach and assuming we know which team he or she is with.
  7. RTJ

    RTJ Member

    Can we play 'What makes this first graf unreadable?'
  8. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    Generally, you write a story with the assumption that not everyone reading it is familiar with the team.
    With that being said, you also don't want to dummy the reader. Many of those reading the paper already know which team is called the Purple Wave.
    It's a fine line to tread. You want to make a story readable but at the same time you don't want to make the reader feel stupid.
  9. HandsomeHarley

    HandsomeHarley Well-Known Member

    "Half the first half"?

  10. Some Guy

    Some Guy Active Member

    I would assume most of the people who care to read a high school story know which team is the Purple Wave ("our team" or "their team"). I understand you have to be careful with unfamiliar mascots, but you can't through your whole life avoiding mascot usage.
  11. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    Kind of hard to avoid using that phrase if they missed half of the half.
  12. No, it's not.
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