Drag is waste. Reduce it.


The Express

I read the Express on my way into work most mornings. Or the first few pages of the Express, anyway... my commute is fairly quick.

A publication of the Washington Post, the Express is a free commuter newspaper distributed at Metro stations and most major bus stops throughout the District. For the most part, it's a great paper... and given that it's free, one can't complain overly much about its shortcomings.

The fine folks who publish the Express do their very best to include every tidbit of major news each day. Everything, though — headline stories included — is fairly brief. This is (a) because it's free, after all, and (b) because it's for commuters like myself, who don't have time to read an entire newspaper.

For the most part, this strategy works out wonderfully. Articles generally present enough information for the reader to have a clue about what's going on, but not enough for the reader to feel informed without doing further research. Think of it as the RSS version of a real newspaper, minus the links to more info.

Occasionally, though, I come across an article that deperately needs either more detail or less detail in order to make sense. One such appears in today's edition. I'll give you the first half... trust me that the second half doesn't supply any further relevant information.

Lake Searched for Survivors
After Quake Shakes Region

Rescuers in fishing boats searched for survivors Tuesday in a central African lake at the epicenter of a strong earthquake that killed at least four people. Monday's quake had a magnitude of 6.8, strong enough to cause widespread heavy damage. ...(AP)

What's going on here? There was an earthquake. Fine. A lakeside town was at the epicenter. OK. The lake is being search. Erm. For survivors. Huh?

Why are they searching the lake? Why are there earthquake victims in the lake? How did they get there? I have no idea.

Furthermore, the earthquake happened on Monday. They are searching the lake on Tuesday. In fishing boats. For survivors. Survivors, being people who have been inexplicably tossed -- by way of powerful earthquake -- out of their village and into the nearby lake, and have since been treading water for at least 12 hours. Right.

Express... a little help, here?

I don't mean to imply that they're making things up — I imagine that their facts are accurate.1 This is simply a matter of presentation. Couldn't they at least try to write these snippets so that I am not left scratching my head? If I wanted to think first thing in the morning, I would do the crossword or something.

1 Actually, the Express isn't responsible for the facts here. The little "(AP)" tag at the end of the story indicates that the information itself came from the Associated Press.

No comments:


  • Purpose: user-interface critique (ranting), among other things.
  • Justification: I use things; I have opinions; I have a blog.