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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Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Arcana Corner: the pull-quote and online v dead-tree again

It's trite learning than form affects substance [1]. But unlike, say, the arts, the technique of journalism is rarely the subject of discussions intended for a lay audience.

The false dogma of objectivity implies that the news media are plain glass through which the unvarnished truth is revealed to a grateful nation. This model would tend to suggest that technique was neutral, to the extent it existed at all.

(Objectivists would, I suspect, be happier to admit the existence of biased journalists - the few rotten apples - than that technique could affect meaning.)

From Campaign Desk, a couple of counter-examples:

First, a reminder of the fact [2] that, with the likes of the New York Times, the online and dead-tree versions of the news may differ. The NYT URL for an online, to-be-polished-later story includes the magic words CND, it seems (for Continuous News Desk.)

Second, a particularly bad example of the pull-quote
(also known variously as the billboard, or teaser, or blurb). Boxed off and printed in a larger font, the pull-quote is a typographical device that calls attention to a particularly biting passage in a piece, or highlights the underlying theme. It's standard practice to "pull" the passage verbatim from the article, and to put quote marks around it if it is in fact a direct quotation.

The pull-quote quoted - from a Wall Street Journal piece by John O'Neill [3]
I was on Mr. Kerry's boat in Vietnam. He doesn't deserve to be commander in chief..
is nowhere to be found in the piece [4]!

Pulled from somewhere rather different...

  1. I had intended to work in some reference to Marshall McLuhan's medium is the message. According to this piece from the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, this tag does not mean anything like what a layman would suppose. It may in fact be in the Top Hundred Misleading Quotes of All Time...

  2. Discussed here before on March 4.

  3. The BC04 operative tasked to neutralise Kerry's rep as a war hero.

  4. In the online version, the offending words are used as a dek.

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