January 30, 2008


One of the most common things the reporters on The West Wing request is "tick-tock." I don't recall the name of the episode but the point is that they want the minute by minute skinny on what the president was doing when, and why. They want to know when he got and picked up the phone to call Prime Minister X, how long it took to write the State of the Union, or when the decision was made by a presidential candidate to drop out of the race.

The thing I struggle with is when and how to use tick-tock in political writing. Common sense says you pick what is "relevant" and "important" and skim the fat. But the truth is that when you've finished your six paragraphs on Election Night, you never really know until a couple days later when you look at it again and say, "That's it," or, "Wow, this is boring. It needs help."

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