The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, March 11, 2004

The politics of the inside jump: another arcanum of journalism?

I'm reading the Susan Moeller - not bad so far - and, on page 46a [1], I get to this:
New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller did write a page-one story covering President Bush's response to the Bali bombing that expressed doubts about the President's statements:...But that paragraph was the last one in the lengthy story - on the inside jump.

I infer from the context that the inside jump is the portion of text that cannot be fitted in the slot made available to it on the front page (or wherever), and must be consigned to any old nook or cranny where it happens to fit for size (rather than content).

There must be stats on the proportion of those who read the first portion of a story hacked in two in this way who manage to find and read its inside jump: my surmise is it's not that great.

In many cases, use of an inside jump must be legitimate: the editor wants to put the piece on A1, but doesn't want to cut it to fit.

But there's another piece of jargon to factor in: the inverted pyramid. My understanding [2] is that this is, in principle, no more than a question of putting the most important facts of a story at the top, and the least at the bottom.

So, for example, in reporting a speech by the President, what he says will come top. Any criticisms or disputes over the content of the speech will gravitate to the bottom.

Or, where the article is hacked, towards the inside jump.

I should say that this is purely my hypothesis: perhaps there are good logistical reasons why creative uses of the inside jump are difficult to impossible.

The theoretical possibility, however, aroused my curiosity. That, and the cool inside lingo, of course...

(Except for digital editions - the sense of which I have never been able to fathom [3] - online users don't see whether a piece has been inside jumped or not. So we are not privy to any skulduggery that might be going on.)

  1. Why can't these damned people use the Acrobat gizmo that aligns the true pagination with the Acrobat pagination?!

  2. There's plenty online about the inverted pyramid: as this Poynter piece.

  3. You must constantly need to use zoom, or some functional equivalent - and they make you pay for the privilege!

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