Thursday, August 20, 2009

Writing sample for the next time I teach professional writing

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has provided a treasure of a sentence. Here's the second paragraph in "Atlanta officials scramble to avoid losing $30M in federal aid," dated August 18:


The idea, floated by Councilman Kwanza Hall, could keep a federal program created to help the city’s poorest residents from expiring Dec. 31 with little impact on communities and heavy spending on administration.
This sentence is a work of art. The first misplaced modifier, "federal program created to help the city’s poorest residents from expiring Dec. 31" gives you a laugh, but then the sentence keeps on giving. If those residents do in fact expire on December 31, the program will make sure their expiration causes great impact on the community. Or something like that. And on account of the federal program, there will be heavy spending on administration after all those people expire. No free lunch here. I'm sure there's fierce competition from other cities to get a piece of this deal.

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Duck Calls

An interesting article in today's Washington Post about the effect that Twitter might have on attendance at movies. People who see the movie can tweet to dozens or hundreds of friends, possibly amplifying the effect of word of mouth, both positive and negative. The following paragraph caught my attention, especially amid an astro-turf campaign to stop reform of health insurance:

"I think Twitter can't be stopped," says Stephen Bruno, the Weinstein Co.'s senior director of marketing. "Now you have to see it as an addition to the campaign of any movie. People want real-time news, and suddenly a studio can give it to them in a first-person way."
Hmm? A studio can give it to them in a first-person way. Will movie studios come up with fake tweets? Ones that seem to come from friends? If astro-turf is fake grass roots, what should fake tweets be called? Bird calls? Duck calls? And how long until fake tweets become an instrument of politics? I can see people protesting fake tweets by massing and honking away with plastic duck calls.

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