All journalists who hold jobs in which they have to write hard-news stories on tight deadlines -- in wire-service newsrooms, for example -- know about the challenge of writing short, accurate summary paragraphs that package lots of facts into very few words.
My college mentor, the famous J-prof David McHam, used to put it this way: A journalist is someone who can write a solid 500-word story in 20 minutes, even with a headache.
You really have to watch out for the transition paragraphs, however, the ones in which you try to give readers a big idea in a punchy sentence, or two. You can end up with strained logic, or worse. Hold that thought, because we will return to it later.
Recently, a careful reader of this blog sent me the URL for an Associated Press story that ran at Crux focusing on a complex and very difficult subject. The headline is rather calm, considering the scandalous subject: "Pope’s advisers on sex abuse also take up children of priests." Here is the overture:
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis’s committee of advisers on protecting children from sexually abusive priests is expanding its workload to include the needs and rights of children fathered by Roman Catholic priests.
Committee members told The Associated Press ... that a working group is looking into developing guidelines that can be used by dioceses around the world to ensure that children born to priests are adequately cared for.
“It’s a horrendous problem in many cultures, and it’s not something that is readily talked about,” commission member Dr. Krysten Winter-Green said.
Indeed, for centuries the Church often has tried to keep such children secret, because of the scandal of priests breaking their vows of celibacy.
Obviously, there are other tricky and often horrible issues linked to this topic, and this Associated Press report does a pretty solid job handling them, especially in a short wire story.