The Concept of the No-snow Story Explained...
Shortly after Mr. Johnson took over management of the Vietnam
war from Mr. Kennedy, the new president determined that there
was no need to disrupt family life for a little thing like an
undeclared war. Married men, consequently, were no longer to
My editor at The Washington Post assigned me to
look into the rush to the altar which was certainly occurring
even as we spoke. It turned out, though, that business at the
marriage license bureau was bumping along at pretty much the
usual rate. Theres your story, then, the editor said. Give
me ten inches.
Classic no-snow story, an older reporter
said when I whined to him about the assignment. A no-snow
story, he explained, was one which grew out of the worlds
failure to live up to an editors expectations. Yesterdays
paper predicted snow, the editor tells his reporter, and yet
there is no snow. Our readers will want to know why.
concept was denominated I began to see no-snow stories
everywhere, and still do. The failure of Saving Private Ryan to win
the Academy Award for best picture gave rise to a regular
blizzard of them not long ago. The Natural Law of
Unemployments stubborn failure to exist has caused a decade
of no-snow stories on the nations business pages. Where oh
where can old Mr. Inflation be hiding?, the baffled editors
cry. (The answer is the same one it has been since World War
II: Old Mr. Inflation shows up whenever the oil-producing
nations manage to set aside individual greed in favor of the
common greed for long enough to raise oil prices. Just watch;
its going on now.)
Never has the real world so disappointed
the American press as in the matter of Monica Lewinsky and her
reluctant non-but-near-lover. The finest investigative
journalists in all the land rooted and snorted about until
they had raised what looked to them, blinded inside it, like
the biggest dirt storm ever to besmirch our virginal
And yet poll after poll showed that the rest of us
saw only a light smudge on the horizon--one of no particular
consequence, or ethical significance.
learned and subtle public philosophers in the land--men on the order of
George Will, William Safire, William Bennett, William Kristol
and the blessèd Father McLaughlin--noted with horror that
although they themselves were knee-deep in dirt, only
a light dusting of the brown stuff seemed to be visible from outside the beltway.
Manfully the brave
fellows bent to the task of instructing us. Over and over they pointed
out that we were
callous, jaded, indifferent, self-centered,
ethically-challenged, over-permissive, undisciplined,
rudderless moral relativists, and lost to all shame. Oh, how we winced
and cried out under the lash of their tongues!
And most bitter of all was the knowledge that we deserved every last lash. For
had we not, wretched souls, let down our editors?