Heavyweight editing in ten easy stomps

... as forwarded to me from a Seattle Times staffer. A true classic.

>> The following underground guide to newspaper editing, written by a New York Times reporter who would like to remain anonymous, has been circulating at that newspaper and beyond.

1. Your lead here. Write what you think you know about the subject, what you feel happened, what your gut tells you.

2. Move reporter's second graf down to bottom where it can be bitten off in the composing room.

3. Fashion new second graf from material deep down in story, preferably with a mysterious second reference to someone not introduced yet.

4. For a quote, get the reporter to put into someone's mouth what you believe or suspect happened.

5. Write and complete the sentence: At stake is . . . . (Something must be at stake here. Or unfolding against a backdrop of something. Be sweeping; use the word "sweeping" if necessary.)

6. Move a lot of stuff around.

7. Order up a mountain of new reporting. Could something unlikely possibly happen? Why? Why not? Who hasn't commented on this?

8. Now cut this all out for space.

9. Cut the kicker. If the reporter left it for the end it couldn't be important.

10. Hold the story.

The New York Times

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