Page 4 Daily Monitor,
Wednesday May 2, 2012
The news of the death of renowned academician Prof. Ssalongo William Ssenteza Kajubi yesterday spread like wild fire living many Ugandans in shock.
What is right with this intro?
1. The writer and/or sub editor attempted to say something other than ‘Prof. Ssenteza Kajubi is dead’. Journalists are encouraged to write catchy intros and the attempt is acknowledged and appreciated.
2. It tells you what the subsequent story is about.
What is wrong with this intro?
1. Academician. Why go with a longer seldom-used word when there is a simple one? Academic performs exactly the same function.
2. Spread like wildfire. This is an unnecessary assumption and adds nothing to the story. Not only is wildfire spelled wild fire, but the analogy is an exaggeration. I, for one, discovered the news by way of this very article. News of the death of any person of note will spread; in this internet/mobile phone era, is it really difficult to imagine that the news will spread fast?
3. Living. I hope this was not a tasteless pun given that the subject of the article is a death. A journalist (be it writer or subeditor) who gets published in the front pages of a national newspaper cannot afford to confuse living and leaving.
4. Many Ugandans. Many, most, majority, lots of.... I am sure there will be many people emotionally affected by the professor’s death and they are bound to be Ugandan. However, the number of Ugandans could be better qualified by introducing a subset. For instance ‘in academic circles’ or ‘in education’. Taken from the broader set of 34 million Ugandans, will many Ugandans really be shocked at his death? I don’t think so.
5. In shock. Every death is a shock and largely unexpected, some more so than others. However, at 86, a person has lived a long full life. Perhaps the ‘shock’ factor alludes to him dying without a long illness; however, this fact can be stated in other ways. Let us agree that death after 80 is neither untimely nor shocking.
The same intro could have read: News of the sudden death of renowned academic Prof. William Ssenteza Kajubi yesterday left many in shock.
Coverage of the same story on pages 2 and 24 of The New Vision and page 2 of the Observer can be referred to. It is also worth noting that the New Vision gives the Professor’s age as 85.