Timing is everything. The maxim is as true in acting as it is in writing.
What set Jack Benny (pictured) or Groucho Marx apart from their peers was not the quality of their material, but their delivery. Great comedians, as well as actors, singers, writers and other performers are masters of rhythm and tempo – delivering their lines at the right moment, with the right emphasis that conveys the external and internal meaning of their lines.
Timing is also important in journalism. One of the marks of superior journalism is its auricular qualities: It sounds as good as it reads. And there is also the timing of sources and material in constructing a story. This gratification of eye and ear is what sets the great above the commonplace reporters.
What set Ilya Ehrenburg apart from his peers, making him one of the greatest journalists of the Twentieth Century, was this skill/gift. In his novel “Dark Star” author Alan Furst put these words in the mouth of his hero Andre Szara to describe the real life Russian journalist. What made Ehrenburg’s writing so good was:
... not so much the diction, but the sharp eye for detail that told a story. Reporting from the civil war in Spain, Ehrenburg had described the different reactions to bombing attacks by dogs and cats: dogs sought safety by getting as close to their masters as they could, while cats went out the window and as far from humans as possible.
A recent piece published by the Religion News Service entitled “‘Anglican’ or ‘Episcopalian’? The answer depends on the value of tradition” illustrates the importance of selecting the right facts, of getting the timing or tempo or your story just right.
The article examines the distinction between self-identified Anglicans and Episcopalians in the United States. After introducing a straw man argument -- Episcopalians left, Anglicans right -- the author knocks it down by writing:
Continue reading George Conger's piece: Timing is everything ...