Friday, July 11, 2008

I got my Quintilian exercise thru the New York Times

Let's see now. Today's New York Times says

Loan-Agency Woes Swell From a Trickle to a Torrent

In the beginning was the word:
The word began spreading...
inches go by, lined with journalistic cliches offering what is most accurately described as a phantasm - "tumult" "plunging," the cliched trickle "has suddenly become a torrent" ...

All by way of exordium. That's the part of the oration that is designed to capture attention.

Finally, a few inches down, the hooha - the nut graf - the narratio the place where we learn what's at the root of all this viral panic:
What set off this storm, and what happens next?

The cause of this week’s huge declines remains somewhat unclear.
Having been treated to a personification of Rumor, we learn that Charles Duhigg does not know its basis. Mr. Duhigg is the Times employee typing the vivid portrait. He has a Harvard MBA. He proceeds to the confirmatio - the advancement of proofs. "The appeal to logos is emphasized here," says Quintilian. Mr. Duhigg weaves concatenations of mights and coulds and woulds:
  • 5 mights
  • 5 coulds
  • 7 woulds
In one graf, he niftily manages one should, three coulds and a would:
Should that happen again, Fannie and Freddie could suspend buying some loans — which could bring much of the American housing economy to a standstill. Or the companies could continue doing business, but losing money on many of their deals, which would continue to undermine investors’ confidence in the stocks.
Mr. Duhigg doesn't offer much in the way of reprehensio - the bit where you knock down opposition to your figment:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, for their parts, say such talk is dangerous. Both companies say they have capital on hand that exceeds what is required by their regulator.
Mr. Duhigg's reprehensio:
But people are still worried.
His case - of journaljism - is strong. He buggers off with a quick peroratio, quoting a fearful Florida legislator (Mel Martinez) rather than offering some authorial statement:
“All we can do sometimes is grab on and hope we don’t get thrown off the ride.”

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Blogger Phil Cubeta said...

Quintillian was not part of the MBA program, I guess. Wish you were editing the NY Times with the full power to hire and fire.

7/11/2008 5:52 PM  

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