In a continuing campaign to reduce the number of quote endings in newspaper stories, I was happy to come upon a powerful demonstration of the way endings that show with action overpower ones that tell with a source's words.
The kicker appears at the end of a John D. McKinnon story in today's Wall Street Journal about the troubled Senatorial campaign of Katherine Harris, who came to fame as Florida's Secretary of State during the recount that helped George Bush win the Presidency in 2000.
You need a subscription to the online Journal to read the entire story. But a bit of background should suffice for those without one. Harris is running against, and losing ground to incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. She's also struggling against Florida Republicans, including Gov. Jeb Bush, who is convinced she can't win.
Determined to hang on, Ms. Harris has sought advice from "a spiritual adviser to the campaign and founder of the Biblical Heritage Institute for the Behavioral Sciences, a Christian counseling service" the Journal reported. This apparently didn't go down well with "Ed Rollins, a renowned Republican campaigner who for about nine months was Ms. Harris's top strategist," according to McKinnon.
Eventually, McKinnon writes, Harris called a staff meeting to tell her remaining troops "she was bringing in fresh blood."
And now the kicker, an ending that that I think speaks volumes about politics in general and the Harris campaign in particular. Notice how McKinnon accomplishes this by concluding his story not with a quote as too many of us do, but with a three-sentence paragraph about that meeting and its aftereffects, one that resonates with a telling detail.
"Mr. Rollins didn't attend and quit within days. He's since moved to running other Republican campaigns. Ms. Harris's new team, more closely affiliated with the Christian right, came in and changed the locks."
In newswriting, just as in politics, actions speak louder than words.
Got a great quote-free ending to share? Add it to "Great Kickers in Journalism," c/o this blog.