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The Elements of Style

Jack Mann was a great newspaper man: editor, reporter, and columnist.

Over at the National Sports Journalism Center, Dave Kindred has a wonderful piece on Mann:

Mann made his reputation through the tumult of the 1960s. First as Newsday’s sports editor, then writing for Sports Illustrated, he encouraged and reveled in reporting that disturbed the peace. “Chipmunks,” he wrote, appropriating the term of disdain coined by co-opted hacks, “are the New Breed … their outstanding characteristics being irreverence and curiosity.”

He made words dance. He once assigned reporters to interview track fans who carried their own stopwatches so he could write the headline: “These Are the Souls Who Time Men’s Tries.” By the end, his resume came with stops in New York, Long Island, Miami, Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis, perhaps because in his fierce integrity he suffered fools not at all. “Most chicken newspapers,” he once wrote, “which is most newspapers….”

When he was at Newsday (1960-62) Mann sent a style sheet to his staff. It was known as “the yellow pages” because he typed his memos on legal pad paper. I recently came across a copy and so in the interest of honoring history and the elements of style, I now share it with you:

[Photo Credit: Shaefer]


1 William J.   ~  Jun 7, 2011 10:05 am

Enjoyed this a lot! Nice to see so much thought given to a set of standards. However, I don't get why so many are opposed to sports "jargon". It is, after all, the vocabulary of the game, and I enjoy it.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Jun 7, 2011 10:18 am

2) I think probably because until that time so much of the sports page was rife with nothing but jargon, to the point where the writing was sloppy and not at all serious.

3 knuckles   ~  Jun 7, 2011 11:33 pm

This is the best thing I've read all day- literally.
Imagine being able to be a badass when writing about writing?

4 Sean Boulton   ~  Jun 14, 2011 10:19 pm

This is absolutely fantastic, Alex. I go through the same issues with my team and my co-workers, but in business writing, which is just as rife with jargon as is sports writing. I'll be handing this out at my monthly staff meeting tomorrow.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver