6A — Editorial Page — Saturday, October 16, 1965
Aii Independent Newspaper
Computer Pressed into Action
To Eliminate Cliches in News Writing
By PAUL MILLER
In a "Newspaper Week" talk at Alexandria, Va., honoring the 181-year-old Alexandria Gazette, on Thursday, I reported on
the results of a project which many readers
will applaud—an effort to cut down on
cliches in The Associated Press news.
A computer was fed with hundreds of
thousands of words from AP wires, and it put
a finger—to use a cliche while telling about cliches—on a number.
The chief offender in all those thousands of words?
None other than our old headline friend,
"Hailed." You know: "Johnson Hails House
Vote," "Election Outcome Hailed by Dems."
And so on,
"Usually reliable sources"
"Limped into port"
Not high enough among the detected offenders to
be mentioned in the report was personal enemy No. 1, "meaningful."
. . . Trustee Washington
By the way, George Washington may be
known as the "father of his country" and our
first president elsewhere, but in his hometown newspaper, The Alexandria Gazette,
files of which are studied by historians, Washington was perhaps more frequently reported
on as —
A trustee of the town, a vestryman of the
church, the steward of the Jockey Club, the
organizer of a volunteer fire company, a
shareholder in the bank, the master of the
first Masonic lodge, and a patron of Alexandria Academy.
. . . Viet Nam Aim Clear
A Wayne Morse can still get an audience
around the country and the beatniks still
parade with their "No War" signs, but—
The big argument no longer is over whether the United States should BE in Viet Nam.
The big argument is over how best to
prosecute the v/ar; how to bring it to the
speediest possible conclusion or stalemate.
Visitors returning from Viet Nam — at
least those one newsman sees—seem agreed
that things may be going more in our favor.
They also agree that it's an unholy mess
in many, many respects—and that American
boys never did a more effective job under
more adverse circumstances.
As for where we go now from here, there
are differences, of course, even among military men. Some observers of competence seem
to agree on something like this:
Victory, or what will have to do for victory
in this situation, is within our grasp if the effort
is made (i.e., if we pour in still more men and machines).
A politician with limited objectives, and
rightly conscious of the feelings of the home
folk, may favor delay in any further intensification of the U.S. effort in Viet Nam. And a
politician, like many not in politics, may
honestly believe that the best way to the conference table is to keep plugging steadily away
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
"There are certain values we should
keep, values like decency in our conduct
and dealings with others, pride in ourselves, self-reliance, dedication to our
country, respect for law and order."
—Former President Dwight D.
Eisenhower on his 75th birthday.
with the men and machines now committed; not enlarge the scope.
However the debate on strategy may go,
there are relatively few indeed who now fail
to see that — distant and distasteful as it
is — America had to fight and win this war.
The word hopefully getting around among
our enemies is simply this:
The United States can not AFFORD to lose in Viet Nam.
. . . Front Line Newsmen
If it is true, and it is, that American boys
never did a finer job than they are doing in
Viet Nam, it also is true that newsmen never
did a more praiseworthy job under great hardships.
Reporters and photographers risk their
lives to report and picture this dirty war clearly.
The second Associated Press photographer
to die on duty out there, gutty little Huynh
Thanh My (pronounced Me) was killed by the
Viet Cong this week in the Mekong Delta area.
Photographer My, a veteran of three years
on the AP staff out of Saigon, was wounded
in the arm Thursday morning. He was waiting to be flown
out. Communist guerrillas overran the area. They slew him.
Horst Faas, who has won about all the
prizes there are for his Viet Nam photo
coverage, was on leave in New York.
Faas wept. Faas has survived
numerous threats and attempts on his life.
He was asked what Faas precautions he took
when covering the fighting. Seriously, he said:
"I raise up and shoot (a picture), then
duck; raise up and shoot, then duck. That
cuts my own personal exposure time in half."
. . . Wise Counsel
Speaking of sign - carrying beatniks,
Dwight D. Eisenhower had words for them in
a 75th birthday interview with the New York
Herald Tribune this week. He said:
"These demonstrations about Viet Nam: I
think they're terrible. The President is responsible for foreign policy. Now I don't say these
people don't have a right to disagree, but they
should do it with logical argument and in a
proper way. They should not try to divide the people.
"These young people should begin to see
that we can have maximum liberty only if
we have an orderly society to guarantee
liberty for all. And hopefully they should
begin to appreciate that a nation is only as
great as the character of its citizens."
. . . Worth a Try
U.S. troops search out the Viet Cong.
A reader inquires what particular reaction,
if any, The Times-Union has had to "Tuesday"
—the new monthly magazine now going to
readers of nine newspapers, including The Times-Union.
The answer is that "Tuesday" has been
welcomed by some readers, especially teachers, and ignored or criticized by other readers.
The Times-Union took the new magazine
on—it has been out only two months—because its concept was interesting and
promising. Of course it was something new
and different. It was anticipated that not
everybody would like it, at least at the start
But it was thought basically well worth trying.
"Trying" is used advisedly. It was agreed
that it would be continued as long as reading
content and appearance are kept at a high
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