I like some things about a long piece CNN published last week concerning a school prayer dispute in Louisiana:
1. It's conversational and easy to read.
2. It devotes a substantial amount of space to a religion issue.
3. It delves into an interesting church-state case.
But the more of the story I read, the more frustrated I became: This is one of those stories that falls into the category of "a mile wide and an inch deep."
That is, for all the words used, there is not a whole lot of real meat to the story. Readers hear mostly from a 17-year-old student upset with her school starting the day with the Lord's Prayer.
Please don't misunderstand me: Based on the facts presented by CNN, I can understand that student's concern from a constitutional perspective.
But the journalistic problem is this: The 17-year-old's perspective is weaved around vague, generalized characters who — especially through the first big chunks of the piece — don't have names. They are cardboard-cutout figures lacking the nuance and complexity one would expect to find in real life.
Here's how the piece opens: