Welcome to my curmudgeondom, where every morning I get whiplash.
Invariably it happens while reading the morning paper. I’ll be reading along leisurely and all a sudden my head whips back and I exclaim, “They said what!”
It can be poor grammar or sentence structure or a typo, but most often it is blatant editorialization that creeps, seeps and springs like weeds from some “news” account.
Today’s was rather innocuous, but none the less a detour from straight news reporting that tells the reader precisely what was said and done — when, where, why and how and by whom.
It was the front page AP story about Sunday’s commemoration in Paris of the centenary of Armistice Day. The lede itself was a bit preachy, which should have given me a warning:
World leaders with the power to make war but a duty to preserve peace solemnly marked the end of World War I’s slaughter 100 years ago at commemorations Sunday that drove home the message “never again” but also exposed the globe’s new political fault lines.
But the head-turning bump in the road came after the reporters related that “high school students read from letters that soldiers and civilians wrote 100 years ago when guns finally fell silent on the Western Front.”
This was followed by:
Brought alive again by people too young to have known global war themselves, the ghostly voices seemed collectively to say: Please, do not make our mistakes.
Reporters, I thought, should report what the letters said, not what the voices in their heads said. Nice thought, but save the sermon for your column or editorial, please.
I never was one to embrace the “new” journalism popularized by Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson and his ilk. I guess I’m stuck in the old school ways, doomed to daily bouts with whiplash, some more severe than others.