The Scientific Journalism Formula

In a near-perfect parody of science reporting in the popular press, Martin Robbins, The Lay Scientist, created “a news website article about a scientific paper“.

In the standfirst I will make a fairly obvious pun about the subject matter before posing an inane question I have no intention of really answering: is this an important scientific finding? […]

This is a sub-heading that gives the impression I am about to add useful context. […]

To pad out this section I will include a variety of inane facts about the subject of the research that I gathered by Googling the topic and reading the Wikipedia article that appeared as the first link.

I will preface them with “it is believed” or “scientists think” to avoid giving the impression of passing any sort of personal judgement on even the most inane facts.

You get the idea, I’m sure, but it’s well worth looking at the full piece as the spoof also acts as a guide to why we should avoid clichéd, formulaic writing: it quickly gets boring and predictable.

In a follow-up to his parody, Robbins looks at why this tired formula has come into play and what can be done about it.

via Kottke

Also: Are stories with loaded-question headlines popular?