Want Readers to Read Your Story? Remember the Frandsen Graf.

Mike Feinsilber (25 years with UPI, 25 years with the AP)  was a reporter in New York, Saigon, and other places and he’s covered Congress and 18 political conventions. He is now part of a lunch group of retired Washington journalists that often talks baseball and while he’s never seemed that knowledgeable about the game he says he once followed the Stroudsburg (Pa.) Poconos and the Brooklyn Dodgers before they moved westward.

A Washington Post story this week about the Washington Nationals hiring a new manager triggered this email from him:

Post sportswriters Jorge Castillo and Chelsea Janes reported that the Nats have replaced Dusty Baker with Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez without telling us readers what a bench coach does. I suppose he coaches a bench. Easier than managing.

The subject line of the email:

Whatever happened to the Frandsen graf?

Here’s a Mike explanation of the Frandsen graf (graf being the wire service shortening of the word paragraph):

“The Frandsen graf” was named after UPI Washington bureau chief Julius Frandsen, its inventor and enforcer. His directive:

When you write a term that might be unfamiliar to many readers—and especially when the term is central to the story—the writer is obliged to make the next paragraph, and not some graf deep in the story, explain the term.

1) We want people to read our stories.

(2) People quit reading stories they don’t understand.

(3) So explain yourself.


  1. Bill Grigg says

    The snooty political columnists are often the worse. Maybe that’s why more people read the Letters to the Editor than their op ed columns!

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