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August 29, 2008 - 2:13pm

A lesson in reading the Daily News: How to write a great column

posted by Philip Anselmo in Daily News, column, comics.

One of the best things to keep in mind when writing a newspaper column—or if you're getting started on a serial blog here on The Batavian, wink wink—is that you will write better the better you know your subject.

On that note, Daily News reporter Matt Surtel proves me right and then some in his column on today's op-ed page. His style is fun and quirky, true to its theme, but above all else, it's informed and well-written, and that's what makes it so enjoyable.

Surtel writes about his longtime obsession with the comic strip For Better or For Worse, introducing me to the devoted and surprisingly zealous fan base of the strip that will end its original run Sunday and start over from scratch. Start over from scratch? Well, you see, this comic strip followed a family in real-time for 30 years, and now it will start over, reducing the kids to toddlers and going at it all over again.

Surtel does not shy from passing judgement on some of the strip's characters, calling out one of them as a "gigantic, stupid dweeb," or lamenting the "stupid mustache" of another whom he describes as a "boring milquetoast loser."

Ha!

All in all, this is a great column from a reporter I wouldn't mind hearing more from aside from the usual beat reporting. I've never read For Better or For Worse, but by the end of the column, I shared Surtel's disdain for that "milquetoast loser" who finagled an otherwise ambitious and interesting gal into a mediocre suburban pantomime of life, love and marriage. Damn that Anthony!

Gabor Deutsch
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"One of the best things to keep in mind when writing a newspaper column—or if you're getting started on a serial blog here on The Batavian, wink wink—is that you will write better the better you know your subject". Mr. Anselmo wrote. I'm confused. I thought anyone at any level or intention was allowed to blog. If people want to blog on this website for free than why would they become a pro at it ? First you complain about the writing in the daily news then you praise a stupid comic strip ? Everyone knows that you are talented by now so whats the deal ? Are you trying to recruit some daily news writers to this website ? I dont think they would work for free so what gives ? You and your "staff" got a good thing going here, dont ruin it now with half-assing your point. Gabor David Deutsch
lazario ladou
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I'm with Zsa Zsa hopeyoudontmindmecallingyouzsazsa Slap me again, Philip
Russ Stresing
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You're confused?!?!?!?
Daniel Jones
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Ummm, what?
Philip Anselmo
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Whoa, Gabor. You may have read much more into this than was intended. All I meant to say was that people, whether they be amateur or professional or whatever, write better the more that they know the subject they are writing about. It doesn't matter if the subject is particle physics, Asian cuisine, cartoons or pet dogs. This is true whether the person writes a column for a newspaper or a blog for a site such as The Batavian or in any other capacity, for that matter. My "wink wink" was by no means an enticement to the staff at the Daily News, though they're more than welcome to stop by and write a post anytime. It was a much more general call to all and sundry to bring their knowledge to The Batavian and share it with the rest of us. Maybe someone who knows gardening can write a weekly or monthly blog about gardening. Or a science professor at the college can hop on every now and then to tell us a little bit about what's going on in the world of the particle. The idea is not to segregate the professional from the amateur. The idea is to give everyone the opportunity to learn a little bit more about everything. Even comic strips. What do you know best, Gabor? Do you have any hobbies? That's all I intended. I hope that clears that up.
lazario ladou
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Who writes of things they have no knowledge of?
Gabor Deutsch
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Well you got me thinking hard. I keep trying to figure out what the hidden meaning was, when maybe there was none ? I keep thinking about your articles and I guess that's the whole idea. One of my new found hobbies is being involved in thebatavian and maybe posting stuff that people love or hate, they respond. I gave you compliments and meant no disrespect. I gotta big mouth and like to "type stuff". Just remember that I just want to be involved. I could be too old with all this computer stuff. Heck, when I went to school we didnt even have a computer ! Yes Batavia. What do I know best? Nothing compared to you. But I love to learn. After 42 years of life I still can learn from example.
Howard B. Owens
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You're 42 and you think you might be too old for this computer stuff? I'm 47. (for the first time in my life, we have a presidential candidate (and now a VP candidate) who are younger than me ... wife says, 'a sign you're now over the hill.')
Gabor Deutsch
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Thats where the secret wisdom kicks in. I learned that younger people have an advantage with technology but when it comes to the bottom line they are well intentioned but will ALWAYS fall back on "simple but proven experience".(mostly when they fail). That's where "we" pick up. Thank you for your response.
Gabor Deutsch
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Call me anything, just please call me. Zsa Zsa is so yesterday, How about the last name ? Call me Ismail.
Gabor Deutsch
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I think I understand now mr. anselmo. I think sometimes you will take a beating because you are making this website happen and do a good job. Your superior grammar and knowledge of events is mind boggling ! Grow up and learn to accept critisism. You got a great future ahead of you.

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