News stories are traditionally written in “inverted pyramid” style. That is, a story’s most important facts are summarized in the first few paragraphs of the story and the less important elaboration relegated to the bottom of the story. The style allows print editors to fit a story into limited space by lopping off expendable paragraphs without rewriting or rearranging the story.
In today’s news AP reporter Julie Carr Smyth recounts the results of a sexual harassment investigation of the office of Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann. Smyth reports that the investigation found Dann be conducting an affair with a subordinate. More importantly, the investigation concluded that the Ohio Atttorney General’s office under Dann was rife with booze, profanity, inappropriate sexual activity, misuse of state vehicles and on-the-job threats involving the Mafia.
The “reverse pyramid” style of reportage gives rise to the Akron Beacon Journal version of Smyth’s AP story posted on Ohio.com:
Three aides have been forced out of their jobs in Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann’s office over a sexual harassment scandal.
An internal investigation released Friday scolds Dann, saying he showed poor judgment in permitting a woman who alleged sexual harassment by an aide to his apartment for drinks.
One of the investigators says aide Anthony Gutierrez (goo-tee-AYR-ez) was fired after the review found that he violated sexual harassment policy. He was accused by two women he supervised of making unwanted come-ons and vulgar remarks.
Also fired was Dann’s communications chief Leo Jennings who is accused of trying to get a worker of lie when interviewed under oath. Investigators say Edward Simpson, Dann’s policy chief, was forced to resign for failing to address inappropriate behavior.
The reader interested in Dann’s political party will have to look elsewhere. The longer version of Smyth’s story posted on the Washington Post and Star Tribune sites reveals in the third paragraph that Dann is a Democrat. If Dann were a Republican, I think it’s fair to say, his party identification would have been more prominently displayed in the story
Beacon Journal reporter Dennis Willard goes into the story at length, providing details of grossly inappropriate behavior on the job and and illegal behavior in the investigation. In the sixth paragraph of Willard’s story, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is referred to as a “felllow Democrat” of Attorney General Dann. That’s it for party identification. Willard requires the reader to draw the painful inference that Dann is a…well…you know what.
UPDATE and CORRECTION: Readers gently point out that Dennis Willard’s excellent article includes an identification of Dann as a Democrat in the first sentence, right where it belongs. Sorry about that. It must have whizzed right by me.