Engaging writing

One way I judge “good” print journalism is whether a story grabs me, sucks me in and holds my attention until the very last word, no matter my underlying interest in the subject. It helps if the story includes storytelling phrases that delight while delivering solid reporting. A great example of such writing is this Canadian Press story by Dean Bennett, about a public opinion survey. The poll assessed shared values among Canada’s four western provinces — potentially eye-glazing stuff. Bennett, however, wrote the piece around interviews with comedians. He included such lines as, “a frustrating exercise in Silly Putty stretchability” and “like making a fist in a bowl of oatmeal.” And he had some comedy fun himself, ending the story with: “How many Torontonians does it take to change a light bulb?” And no, I’m not going to spoil it — you have to read the piece yourself for the punch line.