The Power of Pithy Prose

I love to read outstanding news writing by a reporter who avoids the usual 5Ws of standard reporting and captures the true essence of a story with short, pithy prose.

Such was the lead of a story last week in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about the state representative from Terrell, Texas, who commented during a hearing on Voter ID law that Asian-American Texans might consider adopting names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.” Betty Brown’s remark was heard around the country as media outlets nationwide reported on the gaffe. But the Star-Telegram’s article by Bud Kennedy turned an average lead into a great one.

Here’s the headline and opening paragraphs:

East Texas lawmaker tells Asian-Americans to get whole ‘nuther name

Every session, somebody in the Texas Legislature says something so phenomenally stupid, America takes note.

This session, that task has fallen on Rep. Betty Brown, a Terrell Republican, who came from her East Texas ranch to tell a Chinese-American lawyer at a “voter ID” hearing that if Asian-Americans can’t get accurate IDs, they should pick new names “easier for Americans to deal with.”

Gotta love it! In comparison, here’s how other newspapers in the state reported the incident:

Houston Chronicle:

Democratic Party wants apology from lawmaker

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Democratic Party demanded an apology Wednesday from state Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell for suggesting Asian-descent voters should adopt names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.”

 Austin-American Statesman:

 Lawmaker apologizes for remark about Asian American names

A Texas lawmaker has apologized for her comments regarding names of voters of Asian descent.

Dallas Morning News:

Texas Democrats demand apology for Betty Brown’s remarks on Asian voters’ names

AUSTIN -The Texas Democratic Party has demanded an apology from state Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell, for suggesting that voters of Asian descent should adopt names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.”

Hats off to Star-Telegram Reporter Bud Kennedy for a fantastic headline and lead that stands out among the standard noise.

In his article, Kennedy also reports of a satirical Web site ( that went up shortly after Brown made her comments called the “Betty Brown Name Generator.”

I visited the site and according to the translator, my name is Tammy “Pottery Barn” Brown. Click on the link above to find out yours.

Only in Texas!


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