By Arthur Alpert
Recently an editor friend asked me to write a humor column on politics. I declined because I’m lazy, but I’ve pondering the idea since. And what if I treated journalism that way? So….
The Albuquerque Journal published a Cal Thomas column Wednesday, May 19, wherein that stalwart of the religious right offers a commencement address, abridged, to the class of 2010.
Thomas is himself a riot, of course. He suffers, I surmise, from a rare form of dyslexia that makes unintelligible words like ”love” and phrases like “brother’s keeper” and “judge not lest ye be judged.” Worse yet, the disease underlines, bolds and italicizes “apocalyptic scenes of fire, death and damnation.”
Note I credit him with reading the Christian and Jewish holy texts, not the Classic Comics versions.
In fairness, his latest column seems less vitriolic than usual, if more platitudinous.
And his injunction to “Make economic and relational choices based on cold hard facts, not feelings” is excellent. It jibes perfectly with the Torah’s emphasis on kindness and justice.
And “cold, hard facts” translates as faith, right? As when Jesus said people must have it in order to be saved?
But Thomas is predictable, whereas the Journal’s headline on his column was a pleasant surprise. And it presages lovely, new vistas for journalism:
“Sage Advice for 2010 Graduates.”
Sage? That riled me for a moment. Since when do headline writers judge the content of a piece? I wanted to protest, “Since never!”
And then, silly me, I got it. The Journal is pioneering a new form. Soon all headlines will rate stories.
Many, I suppose, will use numbers, like at the Olympics where experts award ice skaters a 7.5 or 8.
Some editors may borrow from wine critics; a story will be “full-bodied with a soupçon of raspberry and shy hints of lime.” Or, from theater critics; “Krauthammer projects despair effectively.”
Sports terminology may be clearest though; look for stories rated as singles, doubles, triples or homers.
Excelsior, Albuquerque Journal! Onward to the entertaining future. And if it’s not journalism, so what?