Sunday, May 31, 2009

News at 11 ... but make it quick.

(this is WAY too long!)

I noticed it first on our local news station. Every story now has four points listed on the screen, to guide the listener through the complex and intricate details the reporter is describing. The points are very short, kind of like condensed, abridged Twitter posts. (I was going to say "Powerpoint slides" but I figured that would give away my hopeless antiquity)

Here are a couple of examples:

GM bankruptcy imminent
Deadline looming
UAW compromises
Bondholders uncertain


Cowboys stadium opens
Bazillion dollar project
Arlington happy
Dallas not so much

or, later in the broadcast:

Hot weather continues
Hot today
Hot tomorrow
Sure is hot

Now, ok, these little viewer guides may be helpful for people who have trouble following the 15-second single-syllable explanation from the news anchor. Fine. But today I noticed that is doing the same thing. And for them, it's just not working so well. calls them "Story Highlights." Today, I clicked on a link to a sweet, well-written story about a daughter trying to cope with her mother's death. Here is the first thing I saw:

Story Highlights:

After mother's death, daughter finds she's a lot like her father
Daughter and dad concentrate on "computer stuff"
Grieving handled by building electronic memorial
Eventually, daughter gets "I love you" e-mail from dad

Ack! They stripped away all the sweetness, destroyed any sense of drama or character development, and gave away the ending. Thanks, CNN.

I'm guessing that Cliff Notes (remember them?) are probably being replaced by Story Highlights as well, which would be really good news for students. I mean, who has time to read Cliff Notes?? They are, like, pages and pages long.

Story Highlights are the way to go. Here are a few possible examples:

Romeo and Juliet Story Highlights:

Teens fall in love
Parents in long-standing feud
Wherefore art thou
Everybody dies

Moby Dick Story Highlights:

Captain Ahab hunting big white whale
Whale is a symbol for something
Ahab is probably Jonah
But don't quote us on that

War and Peace Story Highlights:

Very extremely long book
Russions with very long names
War, battles, soldiers, death
Just really very long

(hmm ... these are kind of fun. maybe i could develop a whole new career, here!)



Rae said...

Funny short stories.
Had a good laugh.
Writer very talented.
Looking for more.


MzzLily said...

Rae is funny too! Hey, I can view your page now. This stupid Vista! With IE8 it wouldn't let me pull your page. I'm glad you're back on my laptop...

Lesley said...

Rae - haha! cute.

Lily - I'm glad you found me! Vista drives me crazy, too. It won't let my laptop go to sleep. grrr

Fran Hill said...

Blogger watches TV
Notices tendency to summarise
Leads her to thinking
Writes fab abbreviated stories

Bruce Coltin said...

This is great. I can start getting my morning news right here instead of spending hours with the New York Times, Wall Street Journal,
and Washington Post. Thank you for the gift of free time.

Lesley said...

Fran: Do let me know if your students would like to order copies of my Highlights. I'll give them a special price.

Bruce: Excellent idea! The news industry wastes so many words these days. haha. Thanks for following the blog. I hope you enjoy it!


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