Monday, February 18, 2008

From one newspaper to another

It doesn't happen very often, it seems, but I just stumbled across a link from one British newspaper, the Telegraph, to another, the Sun.  Opposite ends of the spectrum, you would think, yet coupled by a simple html link!

The newsreader headline from the Telegraph "Paul Burrell 'lied to the Princess Diana inquest'" wouldn't normally get a second glance from me but this morning I clicked through (the Telegraph, like most commercial sites wants you to do that by limiting the size of their RSS files).  And there on the Telegraph article is a direct link to the Sun.

Now I haven't looked at the Sun in years, so I decided to read the article, which looked like it might be front page and center in the print edition.  The words "tabloid" and "gutter press" did come to mind. . . .

But what I also remembered was a Readability Index study I was introduced to 38 years ago.  It was the beginning of my career and my new employer (BP) wanted to be sure twenty new recruits were properly inducted into the company.  For 6 weeks we were infused with the BP culture (very different from today's, I might add) and one morning we had a writing expert demonstrate how to write readable English.  He asked each of us to buy a different newspaper and then apply a simple readability index formula to the leader article.  One paper didn't even have a leader page but what came across was that the quality dailies scored almost identically with very "readable" indices.  The tabloids didn't fair any where near as well.