One Step at a Time

Photo by Christopher Sardegna on Unsplash

Nagi makes her cake batter before she pours it into the pan. Pfizer and BioNTech will first send the government “additional doses of their Covid-19 vaccine” before the government donates them.  U.S. and Russian officials discussed issues before they addressed them. Since the “making”, “sending”, and “discussing” occurred first, the writers of these articles list them first. Since the “pouring”, “donating”, and “constructing” occurred second, these events are listed second in the text.

Does the sequential order of information work in journalism also?

Associated Press’ article on Henrik Stenson presents a list of events – likely organized by importance that presents the most crucial piece of information listed first.

Associate Press writes:

Henrik Stenson will still have a role for Europe at the Ryder Cup despite failing to get onto the team.

The Swedish player was selected by European captain Padraig Harrington on Wednesday as the fifth and final vice captain for the event at Whistling Straits from Sept. 24-26. 

The 45-year-old Stenson has played in five Ryder Cups, including the past three.

As it is, the content relays a future event in the first sentence and follows up with a mixture of past and present references.  To clarify, I ordered by numbering the events 1-4 with 1 – representing the furthest past and with 4 – representing the future, noting the time sequence as 4, 2, 3, and 1.

(4) Henrik Stenson will still have a role for Europe at the Ryder Cup (2) despite failing to get onto the team.

(3) The Swedish player was selected by European captain Padraig Harrington on Wednesday as the fifth and final vice captain for the event at Whistling Straits from Sept. 24-26. 

(1) The 45-year-old Stenson has played in five Ryder Cups, including the past three.

In this order, the events are confusing the average reader. What’s happening when? I tried to turn this GRIPE into a GRIN by changing the order of event and the verb forms and by adding transitions. My edit, however, loses the attention-getting opener, which made this text less interesting.

 (1)  A 45-year-old Stenson had played in five Ryder Cups, including the past three, (2) before failing to get onto the team.

(3) The Swedish player was selected by European captain Padraig Harrington on Wednesday as the fifth and final vice captain for the event at Whistling Straits from Sept. 24-26.

(4) Now, Henrik Stenson still has a role for Europe at the Ryder Cup.

Since the purpose of the first sentence is – not to explain context, but to generate interest, the paragraph works better with the most recent even first, as the Reddit community suggested, as they reprimanded me (okay, okay, Reddit. Settle down!) In this edit, I begin with the most important event, and follow it with the sequential order of information.

(4) Henrik Stenson still has a role for Europe at the Ryder Cup. 

(1)  45-year-old Stenson had played in five Ryder Cups, including the past three, (2) before failing to get onto the team.

(3) The Swedish player was selected by European captain Padraig Harrington as the fifth and final vice captain for the event at Whistling Straits from Sept. 24-26.

Thanks AP for letting me use your text. Can I just give extrat GRINS to its expert use of the adjective-noun. In “45-year-old Stenson” and “European Captain”, the adjective-noun form is less wordy and reads better than “Stenson is 45 years old” or “Padraig is the European Captain”. 

Take a look at how beautifully Geggel uses the time sequence to explain the process of fossilization in her article on “99-year of spider mummies”.  Geggel gets DOUBLE GRINS for the logic in her structure and for using parallel structure in her verb forms. Expertly, she moves from the verbs, “were guarding” and “were trapped”,  to “hardened”, “mined”, and “considered”. How logical!  What clarity!  Read more about the logic and clarity by subscribing to the website below.   

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