India Uncut

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

A golden peg

All the journalists here are delighted at Inzamam's adjective-defying innings, and his partnership with Younis Khan. (Not because it is adjective-defying; most journos here are quite happy with cliches.) The reason is that it gives them a peg for the reports they will write after the game. A peg, in a journalist's lingo, is the central theme around which the rest of the narrative revolves. It can shape the headline, and once you have the peg in place, writing the rest of the story becomes a breeze. It gives the story direction.

In contrast, consider what would have happened if Pakistan ended the day on 320 for 4, with four of the batsmen having got scratchy fifties, and all the main bowlers having got a wicket each. What's your peg then? Both sides would have had a reasonable first day on a pitch that was good for batting, and no player would stand out. What headline would sum up the day's play and draw the reader in? What one strand would hold the story together, giving you an opening para and an ending para?

Yep, that's why, whenever someone scores a hundred or takes five wickets, or a dramatic fightback or collapse takes place, all the journalists smile in contentment. "We've got our story for today," they say, and begin tapping away on their keyboards, like Ray Charles with a riff stuck in his head.
amit varma, 4:48 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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