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Saturday, August 13, 2022
Editor’s NotebookEditor's Notebook: Cracking the code in Post-land

Editor’s Notebook: Cracking the code in Post-land

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Yours truly Johnny Dollar (that’s a reference for you old-timey-radio fans) was at a local 7-Eleven this morning to get caffeinated when, as it my wont, I perused the front page of The Washington Post [motto: “Li’l Scotty wouldn’t grab one if you paid HIM $2.50 rather than the other way around”].

And after all these years of looking at the front page, I think I have now cracked the code.

Down the left-hand column was an article that said, and let me try to remember the headline, “Biden Poised for Big Congressional Gains.”

Seemed a little odd, as prognosticators are suggesting Democrats are going down faster than a [insert your own joke] in November, even if Republicans do manage, as is their usual trick, to blow the advantages that life has handled them. But I digress.

What the article actually was referring to were a couple of bills that are likely to pass Congress in the near future, which, apparently, the paper believes will give our dazed and confused president a boost.

Well, maybe among the inside-the-Beltway crowd. But out there in the hinterlands, where prices and crime seem out of control, nobody’s paying to the win-loss scorecard in Congress.

Herewith how I think I’ve cracked the code: The Posties put down the left of the front page the articles that even THEY don’t believe the public will buy.

For those of us having toiled in the art/science/voodoo of laying out a broadsheet newspaper page, we’re trained in the “inverted-C” style. Which essentially means that readers pay attention first to any banner headline across the top, and if one doesn’t exist, then they pay attention to the headline at the top right. The headline and story at the top left is usually ignored by readers.

So I’ve got your number, Posties. I know that you know that I know what stories you’re just throwing out there to help your side, even though you know that I know that you know that your heart’s not really in it. (And where’s my commentary Pulitzer for that last sentence, huh?)

NEVER FEAR, EDITORIALS ARE COMING BACK: Both in last week’s and this week’s Arlington editions, we’ve eschewed (love that word!) using opinion-page space for an actual editorial, instead running some back-and-forth on the Missing Middle issue among those in the community with varying viewpoints.

But never fear: our editorials are not going away. In fact, the bile is building up to a crescendo and will be unleashed starting next week.

– Scott McCaffrey

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