Description for the sake of description

Aspiring reporters are often taught to put lots of description in their articles. "Description can help bringNewspaper
a subject to life," the journalism professor says. But not all subjects can be brought to life, not even with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

In the case of the Brampton, Ontario, double-homicide today, in which a man allegedly stabbed his wife and a Good Samaritan, the description that a Globe & Mail reporter decided to include served no purpose whatsoever, except perhaps to let everyone know that the reporter was wide awake in journalism class — and probably sitting in the front row too.

Both the woman and the Good Samaritan died at the plaza, which was
quickly flooded with police cruisers and emergency vehicles and
cordoned off with yellow tape.

Two hours later, their bodies were still on the ground, covered by a yellow tarpaulin.

No names were immediately released.

Habiba Syed, who works at the nearby Bestway Food Market, witnessed
part of yesterday’s violence and recounted seeing a man try to stab
himself in the neck with a bloody knife before slumping to the ground,
shouting, ‘My wife is dead. my wife is dead.’

Pizza maker Amarik Mangar also saw some of the fight and described the slain woman as heavy-set. [Link]

Do we really care whether she was heavy-set, medium-set or light-set? Nope, not unless her weight had something to do with her death:


Pizza maker Amarik Mangar described the woman as heavy-set and said her last words were, "I don’t care what you say, I’m not going on a diet!’

— Pizza maker Amarik Mangar described the woman as heavy-set and said she was unable to run away from her husband.

— Pizza maker Amarik Mangar described the woman as heavy-set and said she had just bought a large pizza at his store and refused to share any of it with her husband.

Perhaps the reporter should have tried to be a little balanced in his description:

— Pizza maker Amarik Mangar described the woman as heavy-set, her husband as big-bellied, the Good Samaritan as rotund and himself as well-toned.

Or better yet:

— Pizza maker Amarik Mangar described the woman as heavy-set, her husband
as big-bellied, the Good Samaritan as rotund, himself as well-toned, and the Globe & Mail reporter as a horse’s behind.

Photo by Peter Rukavina

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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