Friday, March 17, 2006

Media: The "Politics In Minnesota" Style Handbook

Well, the Politics in Minnesota newsletter people are trying to get me to renew my subscription again.

Now I realize that a lot of the stuff in the PIM newsletter is aimed at lobbyists and media figures who think they are dead if they don’t see their names in print every now and then. And there’s nothing much about policy in the newsletter, but who cares what the PIM publishers think about policy? The people who put out PIM are “who’s ahead-who’s behind in St. Paul this week ” journalists--finding out about that is the main reason someone would want to subscribe. We need the sort of publication that PIM is supposed to be—a regular Minnesota political intelligence digest, in email form, full of news, gossip and predictions about upcoming trends.

But for Jesus’ sake, what’s the deal with their copy writing? PIM strives for a hip, “insider-ish” tone, but too often they end up with this chaotic babble that you have to read three times to understand. Here is an example from one of the latest editions:

Vikings Get First Down From Legislative Leaders

Another development during the panel discussion at last week?s Minnesota Chamber dinner. On the final topic of the night, moderator KSTP?s Tom Hauser had all of the leaders agreeing that the Vikings are in play for this year. The only hesitation came from House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, (DFL-St. Paul) who was put on the spot by Speaker Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon).
Previously Sviggum had been cold on the idea, but in this very public place he opened up to the idea--handing the ball to Entenza to run with. If the momentum gets going on stadiums, the Vikings could happen this year with the Governor saying he is open to the idea. The Vikings advantage ? their help from the state is in the form of infrastructure. (Disclosure: New School has done non-stadium related work for the Vikings.)

What the hell is this writer talking about? Something about the stadiums? What? You want me to pay to read this? I'm not even going to mention the question marks that run in place of apostrophes, forget that, I get that problem, too. But how can anyone read this junk unless they also have some sort of Politics in Minnesota secret decoder ring?

What is this obscurantist fucking football metaphor, with Sviggum handing off the ball to Entenza? I mean, I “get it”, they’re discussing football stadiums so the writer’s trying to be “clever” by incorporating football jargon—but that’s only considered “clever” if you’re a seventh-grader writing for the junior high school newspaper. And meanwhile the reader is left to wonder: what real-life occurrence or incident is this word imagery supposed to represent? Forget your stupid metaphor for a second; what the hell actually happened at that panel discussion? How about a quote from Entenza or Sviggum, for God’s sake, give us a clue, come on!

And why would anyone even want to conjure up a disturbing visual image like that, Sviggum and Entenza playing football? It’s a rhetorical question; I don't want anyone to try and answer--what I really want to know is: why would anyone want to write this kind of copy? What if I tried to send you poor bastards out there a bill every month for writing like that?

It’s not that I couldn’t come up with stupid metaphors and beat them to death if I wanted to. Sure, I could write about Michele Bachmann and the GOP caucus leaping over the waves like a school of dolphins at sunset, breaching the surface again and again as they head northwest to feed on the burgeoning shoals of bigoted voters that swarm out to the Great No Gay Marriage Reef every year at this time. Or, if it has to be a sports metaphor—here’s Pawlenty in the red tights, Dean Johnson in the white—Pawlenty fakes left, Johnson jabs right, but doesn’t connect—there’s the bell, both men return to their corner—Pawlenty there getting some heartfelt advice from cornerman Steve Sviggum who’s also working on that nasty cut over the Governor’s left eye. Pawlenty’s a bleeder, we all remember that from the state government shutdown last year—Mike Hatch in the audience, ringside seat, watching with interest as he chows down on some popcorn…

But why would you pay to read that? And what does it all mean? It doesn’t mean jack shit, it doesn’t tell anyone anything about anything—Pawlenty’s a boxer, Bachmann’s a leaping dolphin, Sviggum and Entenza are playing football. It means you just paid to read a bunch of pointless self-indulgent crap writing, that’s what it means.

But if that’s the kind of stuff that’s supposed to justify a paid-up subscription to PIM, I want you folks to know that yours truly can turn out nonsense like that in his sleep, without even trying, and without the pointless repetition and bad sentence structure. So where’s my hundred dollars a year from electronic subscribers?


At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you think PIM is bad, try reading through an edition of Shawn Towles' This guy is lucky he can spell his own name--and he's been known to misspell his website on his own shirts!

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Prendergast said...

Alright, I will check it out. But I think some of the paragraphs you find in PIM would be pretty tough to beat.


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