There are 357 really good words in this morning’s New York Times. They’re in a story about a college basketball game that happened yesterday in Portland, Ore., between the men’s teams from New Mexico and Louisville.
Here’s what I like about Greg Bishop’s report:
- Brevity. If I believe what Jakob Nielsen and others say about our on-line attention span, Bishop made the first 120 words really matter. They get the reader through the essential facts — who, what, where, when and why.
- Engaging. In addition to the basics, Bishop gives us a splash of color…just to be engaging.
- Well-structured. Bishop gets us in, creates a sense what it might have been like to be at the game, and then he gets us out. Gracefully.
Think about that last word. We make fun of TV and radio “sportscasters” and their tortured, clumsy, florid language manglings. They’ve given a bad name, I’m sad to say, to the legacy of writers such as Red Barber, Damon Runyon, Grantland Rice and Ernest Hemingway.
Notice how Bishop captured the drama of a senior’s desire to get back in the game despite his injury, finishing his collegiate career, while “Louisville instead moved on.”
Or, how Bishop passed along the feeling when the Cardinals center “…took a pass and slammed home a dunk [which took the wind out of New Mexico's sails and] …effectively ended the Lobos’ season.”
I’m sure Bishop could have given us thousands of words about the game yesterday. Thousands of good words. But, he didn’t need them.