Writing With A Slant

8 May 2002

Writing With a Slant or an Angle

What’s your angle? It’s 1950 and a suited reporter with a cloud of cigarette smoke hovering around his face has just leaned into a fellow reporter’s cloud to find out what his slant on a breaking story is going to be.
This scene must have been repeated 1001 times in the movies and television shows. Even recent entertainment has shown a modern version of the same scene.
The best of these scenes made it clear that the slant or angle had nothing to do with bias or predisposition. Instead, your slant was your hypothesis. The reporter’s method was somewhat like the scientific method. Facts were facts. Each one either supported the hypothesis or refuted it.
Journalists lose that title when they abandon the scientific method. When all the facts are gathered and they use only the ones that support their original hypothesis, well, that’s not journalism. That’s something much more like an op-ed piece. In fact, I’ve begun watching the mainstream media always checking to see whose opinion I’m reading or listening to.
There’s a difference in a journalist – one who uses a methodology similar to the scientific method and a writer who may simply be providing his or her opinion. Definitions are important. Slants and angles of today mean something different from those in the smoke-filled rooms of the distant past.

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