Monday, October 29, 2007

Keep it simple

This is a melancholy week for people in my profession because former Wall Street Journal reporter Jerry Bishop, one of the greatest science writers ever, died last Friday at age 76. Tributes are mounting at http://blogs.wsj.com/health, where Jerry's colleague Ron Winslow posted an elegant obituary of his friend and mentor.

Jerry understood the value of simplicity far better than most of us. Ron describes a session more than 20 years ago, where scientists were talking about defibrillators -- implantable devices that shock a quivering heart back into normal rhythm. "Several reporters in the audience asked technical questions about the device and then Jerry raised his hand. 'When the device fires that jolt,' he asked, 'what does it feel like?'"

That is what readers really want to know, and we must remember to ask.

1 comment:

T Guy Echols said...

I watched Act 1 of Spike Lee's production last night, and it was sobering. Both my wife and I sat there with our mouth hanging open half the time.

Ironically, I had been teaching at church on the life of Joseph just this past Sunday. You may remember that he served as prime minister for one of the Pharaohs during another natural disaster. He was exalted because of his planning and preparation which kept everyone alive.

Federal, State, and City leaders could sure take a lesson from that story.