Monday, January 11, 2010

The magazine rack: teachers, gardens and bloat.

This month’s Atlantic has a lot for education reporters, though given that I usually read it online, I was shocked that the actual magazine costs seven bucks! Given that I was captive in an airport, the money was well spent. Caitlin Flanagan rips on classroom gardens, which I found pretty compelling even though normally I can’t stand Flanagan’s work, and if the word were not so obnoxious I would describe myself something of a locavore. Amanda Ripley reveals some interesting things about how Teach for America evaluates its teachers. (Though she clearly did not read my post on overstating the teacher quality research.)

By far my favorite piece was Michael Kinsley attacking the kind of bloated news writing that makes me crazy, particularly in politics stories. Seventeen years ago, when I was a novice copy editing intern, I was reprimanded for trying to edit out “sweeping” from a lede of a national politics piece; that was the start of my utter mystification about Why We Write That Way. Then again, I’m not sure what would even be left in a Kinsleyan piece on health care legislation, or what a paper following his admonitions would look like. A giant briefs column?

1 comment:

  1. At current cover price, The Atlantic needs words as much as any magazine ever has. Kinsley is a gifted writer and editor. This latest version of his recurrent piece on excessive verbiage amuses, even as it laughs at the editor and reader by making itself an exception to the rules it insists on.
    Any doubt about the first sentence, above, should be allayed by complete reading of the Caitlin Flanagan piece. Instead, though, have more time for your (or anyone's) children and skip to Flanagan's last page; you'll be spared a refresher on her biography and cred on foodies, and get right to cogent prose by Ted Sizer.