O.K. I recognize that that is a "dog bites man" kind of headline. I was part of an Ivy League newspaper that takes itself seriously, and it's not all bad.

But the Yale Daily News wins the prize.

I've had issues with the YDN in the past, but it primarily had to do with the ability of Gilmore Girls to totally fictionalize a college newsroom with no nod to facts.
But recently, two articles have come to my attention.
First: Shvarts Submits Alternate Project

Aliza Shvarts ’08 has submitted another art piece in place of her controversial senior project that purportedly documented nine months of self-induced miscarriages, the University said this week. The announcement — which came Monday, a week and a half after Shvarts’ initial project inspired nothing short of a national controversy — puts to rest the question of whether the Davenport College senior’s art exhibit would ever be displayed. Last week, the University forbade Shvarts from installing it unless she admitted the piece was a work of fiction. She did not.

Those are a great two grafs. Classic lede nutgraf. But they are followed by 25 more grafs. 25! That's a lot. Way more than this update requires.It revists the entire history and uses words like "impasse," "ongoing melodrama," "saga," and my favorite "nothing short of a national controversy." I am pretty sure it was short of a national controversy.

In another very long article, the YDN exposes the possibility that decaf was used instead of caffeinated beans.

This is, admittedly, a big story for college students during finals, and they do a good job. But, in 21 grafs. Here are three grafs that could have been deleted:

According to Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University and an expert on the study of caffeine, caffeinated and decaffeinated espresso would have markedly different effects on people who drank them.

“Caffeine is a drug, even though it’s served in beverages like coffee,” he said. “People should know how much they’re taking and control their dose accordingly.”

Although not everyone reacts to caffeine the same way, “caffeine withdrawal is a well-documented phenomenon,” Griffiths said. “Fifty percent will exhibit symptoms, and 13 percent will be functionally impaired. It is a terrible idea to put people into caffeine withdrawal without their knowing it.”

I spent a lot of time trying to convince people at my college paper to interview on campus experts, but this seems almost like the YDN is making fun of the use of experts in newspaper articles.


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Written Pyramids is a blog written by a journalist living and working in Washington D.C.

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