Latest Templeton releases have a déjà vu quality

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Apparently, Catherine Templeton has changed her name.

It’s now “Conservative Outsider Catherine Templeton.” I know this because headlines on releases from her campaign start out that way. (Or at least, two in row did. One more, and we’ll call it a trend and send it to Lifestyles.)

Which is weird. I mean, once you say all that mouthful, you’re about out of room for a normal headline, and you still haven’t gotten to a verb.

Consequently, when I see a release from her, I think I’m seeing the same one — but no, eventually I get to a word that’s different. It just takes patience.

Actually, I just looked again and realized the part that doesn’t vary a whit is longer than I initially thought. With these two examples, the release starts “Conservative Outsider Catherine Templeton Issues Statement” before it gets to a single word that varies.

This is an odd communication style. Usually, writers of releases seek to engage your attention way sooner. But the campaign seems to have decided that positioning her as “Conservative Outsider” is more important than actually saying something — more important even than her name.

Maybe going forward, they could abbreviate it to something like “ConOut Templeton…,” in the interest of moving things along and getting to the point.


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8 thoughts on “Latest Templeton releases have a déjà vu quality

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Oops! Looks like they took my advice even before I posted this.

    The latest release, from this morning, jumps right into “Catherine Templeton Issues Statement,” leaving off the “Conservative Outsider.”

    Yeah, there’s still a lot of monotony here (in fact, they’re so much alike I initially accidentally posted an image of that one instead of the second release above), but at least it gets to the point a little faster.

    And what is that point? Well she thinks “McMaster Should Address Corruption, SCANA, Roads” in the State of the State tonight…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Getting way farther into the weeds than any of y’all will care to go…

      There’s a basic rule of news writing being violated here. One of the first rules you learn in J school is, don’t start a story with, “The Ladies’ Auxiliary met on Wednesday evening…”

      The thing is, it’s not news, since presumably the ladies auxiliary always (or often) meets on Wednesday evening. Start off with something interesting that HAPPENED at the meeting — if anything did. If nothing did, don’t write the story.

      “Catherine Templeton Issues Statement” violates this rule. Yeah, we know she’s issuing a statement. We saw the logo up top. This is from Catherine Templeton. It’s another statement from her. Got it. Now, tell us what she SAID…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Of course, professional news organizations are regularly violating the traditional rules of headline-writing.

        You may have noticed recently a lot of headlines at like these:

        • “He says he was left out. So, here is what this Democratic governor candidate is doing”
        • “See what this former USC staffer bought with $132K of stolen money”

        Traditionally, you TOLD readers what Phil Noble and that “USC staffer” had done, as much as you could within the space constraints of the headline.

        Now, the emerging convention is to promise to tell them — IF they click on the link…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Yes, that’s the metric. It used to be paid circulation; now it’s this. At least, that’s what it was to business side. And business side wasn’t allowed to tell us to put X or Y in the paper to affect the metric.

            It used to be about informing one’s fellow citizens, as clearly and quickly and completely and accurately as possible. Yeah, you wanted the reader to be pulled in to the story, but not because you made money that way — you just wanted them to read it. (Why would you want to write and publish something no one reads?)

            And that wonderful, idyllic situation was propped up by a magical business model that didn’t depend on journalists to do this or that. The model had nothing to do with the relationship between journalist and reader, but between advertisers and customers, a set of people who weren’t even on our radar screen. And it brought in so much money that it worked beautifully. And everybody who did their job well and didn’t slack off had a pretty secure situation.

            And that’s the way it was, as Walter Cronkite might have said. Up to very recently. Now, every journalist knows that if his actions (choice of topic, working of headline) don’t lead to clicks, there will be more layoffs, and he could well be in the next round…

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, the person who does headlines on her website has a better concept of what a headline’s for than the one putting out releases.

    WHY IS HENRY HIDING?” might not be perfect, but it works a lot better than “Conservative Outsider Catherine Templeton Issues Statement after Gubernatorial Forum/McMaster Declines to Participate”…

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