Monday, September 29, 2008

Inverting Wachovia

The story, “Citigroup Buys Banking Operations of Wachovia,” written by Eric Dash and Andrew Ross Sorkin by the New York Times is a very good example of a hard news piece featuring the inverted pyramid and its characteristic qualities. The lead, “Citigroup will acquire the banking operations of the Wachovia Corporation, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said Monday morning, the latest bank to fall victim to the distressed mortgage market,” answers the most important part of the lead’s job: the 5 Ws and H. The next step in hard news is to place only the most important information at the beginning of the story and other information less pertinent or more colorful later. For example, the authors did not articulate how much Wachovia would be sold for until the fifth paragraph into the story. Even further down in paragraph ten, information is disclosed as to how long Wachovia has been hurting financially due in large part to bad mortgage practices. The final piece of information given to readers in the article is the impact the addiction of Wachovia to Citigroup will have on the future of customers and outside clients and investors. The information supplied in the last paragraph is nowhere near as important to readers as the lead. The ending information could easily have been left out of the story. An important aspect of news stories is to put information in chronological order. For example, in the article, information from Monday morning, located in the lead is before information about the negotiations from Sunday (See paragraph eleven). Even this information precedes the news about discussions with major banks Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Banco Santander of Spain last week in paragraph fourteen. The point of the inverted pyramid technique in hard news is two-fold. One goal is to help readers get the most important news without having to analyze entire articles and sort information unnecessarily. The other goal is to help writers and editors cut down articles that are simply too long for the space provided in the layout of the news source.

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