Thursday, February 28, 2008

Linda Greenhouse to Leave the Times

At the risk of gushing, Linda Greenhouse's decision to leave the New York Times has left me very depressed. Her departure is not a death in the family but it is always a passing of note when a writer who has defined her beat in the best traditions of writing and reporting decides to get off the bus.

Greenhouse, who has worked at the paper for 30 years and is the dean of the Supreme Court press corps, is an appointment read for me. I like the law anyway and the Supreme Court especially -- of course I read "Becoming Justice Blackmun" and am reading "The Nine" right now -- but her abilities transcend the subject matter.

Her prose is consistently clear and diligent and spare, at any length. She eschews the soft lead so common elsewhere in the paper (and elsewhere) but does not rigidly adhere to the 5Ws. Great writers can pull that off, but she is a professional driver on a closed track: do not try this at home.

As a reporter, Greenhouse leave no relevant stone unturned and all the irrelevant ones untouched. Her use of non-linear references are always en pointe: If she makes a historical reference it is only to explain the otherwise obscure significance of a phrase or the cadences in a decision, or of the "Survivor"-like alliances in the largely secret society that is the Court.

I presume she is a pleasure to edit since to edit her is probably just to read her.

Yes, I am a fanboy, and not ashamed to admit it.

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