Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Write Tight - Like Bob's Old Boss

Write tight, that's the goal of every newspaper reporter, or should be. Some do, some don't. Writing tight means tell the story, tell it well and do it in as few words as possible.
Clark Gable made the point in a horrible old movie titled "Teacher's Pet." It was horrible because the journalism teacher was Doris Day. Gable was a typical hard-nosed city editor of that era. For some long forgotten reason he slipped into Day's classroom and took a seat at the rear. Day gave the class the details of an event and told her students to write the story in 500 words.
Gable decided to do it along with the others. He gave his completed story to Day and she said something like, "This is perfect, but it's only 350 words." Gable replied, "I thought that was the idea." Now he was the teacher telling Day how it was done in the real world. He had written tight.
So did Bob's old boss in a great Help Wanted ad in my old newspaper, the Star-Press in Muncie, Indiana. Jackie, who reads every word in her hometown paper, even the classified ads, pointed it out to me. Aside from a phone number the entire ad read:
Bob had a job
Bob lost his job
Call for Bob's Job

Now that's writing tight. An entire story in a dozen words. In his role of city editor, Gable would have loved it.
It reminds me of another story, of course, one that probably made the rounds of every newsroom in the country back in the olden days.
There was a cub reporter who wasn't writing tight. His wordy stories aroused the ire of his city editor on numerous occasions until finally the cub was told he was going to have only one more chance to do the job right. Otherwise he'd be applying for Bob's Job. His last chance to write a tight story was an assignment that took him to a prison for the criminally insane. An inmate had escaped, fled the area and raped a woman. The cub reporter returned to the newsroom and, remembering the words of the city editor, wrote his tight story: Nut Bolts and Screws.



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