Saturday, November 21, 2009

A lot accomplished in a minimum of space

I started reading this story because I saw the headline about a fatal shooting at Ferrum College, which is a) near where I used to live outside Roanoke, Va. and b) near Virginia Tech, which has had a string of tragedies in recent years. (And, for baseball fans, c) Ferrum is the alma mater of Billy Wagner, who was pitching there when I was covering sports in Roanoke. Pardon the digression.)

But I'm linking to the story here because I think the writer, Brigid Schulte, did a nice job of taking the two people at the center of the story and starting each in motion, one after the next, with enough background that they are people and not just names, and then bringing them together -- all in five paragraphs.

And in the sixth graf, I think she artfully brings out the questions that everyone is or will be asking, but does it without assigning blame or beginning to create a good guy-bad guy setup. Importantly, I think it attempts to defuse emotional reaction (think: comments section) to what happened by straightforwardly telling you that the story is going to cover that ground.

If she didn't do that intentionally, then what she wrote at least works toward doing that job, and is worth noting.