We showed a couple years ago that the front page of the NY Times averages a little under 2 “But Paragraphs” (paragraphs that start with the word BUT) on any given day. But … today’s paper has 3 stories above the fold, all 3 are about the Kavanaugh hearing, and all 3 have a But Paragraph. Might seem trivial. It’s not. There’s a correlation.
Three stories on the Kavanaugh hearing. Three paragraphs starting with the word BUT. The average is 2. A coincidence? I think not.
CRANKING UP THE NARRATIVE TENSION
“But” is a strong word. When I did a Story Circles workshop with 15 diplomats from the U.S. State Department they told me they are taught to not even use the word. It’s not a good word for delicate, diplomatic negotiations. BUT … when the nation is gripped with drama, you can bet the newspaper of record is not about to go lightly with the reporting.
That’s what you see in today’s NY Times. Three But Paragraphs above the fold, none below. All of them are stories about the drama of the day — the Kavanaugh hearing. It’s clearly a time for drama, and BUT is the word for the job.