Update: I don’t know what headlined appeared in the printed version of the Times, but the one I mention below seems to have been scrapped in later online versions.
In an entry just over a month ago, I wrote about the:
“basic journalistic convention [used] in any ongoing story to explain why the development being written about on that particular day is worth reading. In the Anglican saga, this has given rise to what I refer to as the “gap widening” paragraph. Since at least 2003, very capable reporters have been filing stories saying that the gap between liberals and conservatives in the Episcopal Church is “widening.” Sometimes this graph is accurate, but sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes the gap is widening; sometimes the reporter has just become aware of how wide the gap has always been; and sometimes the reporter just need some shorthand to justify the coverage of what might be a marginal development.”
It has taken a few days, but I am pleased to announce the first official “gap widening” usage of the Anglican Primates meeting in Dar es Salaam. Our lucky winner is The Los Angeles Times, which has a “rift widening” headline on an otherwise harmless story distinguished primarily by its usage of another journalistic convention used to create an atmosphere of drama when nothing of significance is happening: the famed “backdrop of growing concern.”
So, on a day on which many of those present thought that Rowan Williams had actually made progress toward building a coalition that could further his covenant, the LA Times either took a contrarian view or simply fell back on cliches.
I am waiting for the first story that reads:
“The rift in the Anglican Communion stayed about the same size yesterday, or possibly shrank a bit. It was hard to say. But whatever one could say would be said against a backdrop of slightly decreased anxiety, although some people still don’t treat one another as well as one might like.”
That one gets a prize.