There are several guarantees in journalism, one of which is if the temperature breaks a heat record the dailies will lead with a photo of children running through a sprinkler.
People love reading about weather, love talking about it while waiting in line for a coffee. “It’s hot outside,” is a perfect conversation-starter. Newspapers must provide easy introductions.
But, when an editor tells the newsroom, “we need a weather story,” journalists, all of a sudden, are buried under a stack of more important assignments. Whoever has the worst excuse gets to sweat over a notepad on Main Street and ask passersby the obvious question: “Hey, it’s hot outside, huh?”
Last week, when temperatures hit triple digits, a glut of writers dug deep and armed with Bics slogged through one of the hottest days in state history. They were each assigned to describe the same thing: heat. How’d they do? After perusing through some newspapers here are a few of my winners.
The Sacramento Bee, when describing the inescapable heat wrote: “You can run but you’ll still be fried.”
The Missoulian deftly described the heat, writing that it was so hot “that even the river seemed sluggish.”
And the best description, hands down, goes to the Chicago Tribune for leading a story with this gem: “Like a sweaty stranger who sidles up too close in an airless room, a heat wave settled in over the weekend in the Chicago area.”
I can almost smell it.
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