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Follow-ups Rewrites

=260. "Follow-ups."=--"Rewrites" and "follow-up" stories are news
stories which have appeared in print. The distinction between the two is
that "follow-ups" contain news in addition to that of the story first
printed, while "rewrites" are only revisions. Few news stories are
complete on their first appearance. New features develop; motives,
causes, and unlooked-for results come to light in a way that is
oftentimes amazing. Sometimes these facts appear within a few hours;
again they are days in developing; and occasionally, after they have
developed, the story will "follow" for weeks, months, and even years
without losing its interest. The Thaw, Becker, and Charlton stories ran
for years. The first item about the Titanic disaster was a bulletin of
less than half a stick; yet the story ran for months.

=261. Constructive Side of "Follow-ups."=--A reporter, therefore, must
not consider a story ended until he has run to ground all the
possibilities or until the new facts have ceased to be of interest to a
large body of readers. Indeed, it is in the "follow-up" that the
reporter has one of his greatest opportunities to prove himself a
constructive journalist. There is every reason, too, for believing it
will be in the "follow-up" that the big newspaper of the future will
find its greatest development. At present, stories often are dropped too
quickly, so quickly that the really constructive news is lost. A great
epidemic sweeps a city, taking an unprecedented toll of life and
entailing expenditures of hundreds of thousands of dollars. All the
reporters grind out pages and pages of copy about the plague, but few
follow the physicians and scientists through the coming weeks and
months in their unflagging determination to learn the causes of the
disease, to effect cures, and to prevent a recurrence of it as an
epidemic. Yet such news is constructive and is of greater value probably
to the readers than the somewhat sensational figures of the plague. For
the scientists will conquer in the end, and all along the way their
improved methods of cure and prevention will be of educational value to
the public. So also with strikes, wrecks, fires, commercial panics,
graft and crime exposures, etc.; the reporter is advised to follow the
story through the weeks to come, not necessarily writing of it all the
while, but holding it in prospect for the constructive news that is sure
to follow.

=262. Following up a Story
The first story which the new reporter
will have to follow up he will some day find stuck behind the platen of
his typewriter. It will have been put there by one of the copy-readers
who has read the local papers of the preceding morning or afternoon and
has clipped this article as one promising further developments. The
first thing to do is to read the whole story carefully. (As a matter of
fact, the reporter really should have read and should be familiar with
the story already. Familiarity with all the news is expected of
newspaper men at all times.) Then he should look to see if the reporter
writing the story has played up the real features. In his haste to get
the news into print, the other reporter may have missed the main
feature. A delightful case in point is a "follow-up" of an indifferent
story appearing in a New York morning paper:

Because they were penniless and hungry, Charles
Ewart, 31 years old, and his wife Emily, living at
646 St. Nicholas Avenue, were arrested yesterday in
the grocery store of Jacob Bosch, 336 St. Nicholas
Avenue, charged with shoplifting. When arrested by
Detective Taczhowski, who had trailed them all the
way from a downtown department store, seven eggs and
a box of figs were found in Mrs. Ewart's handsome
blue fox muff....

But the cause of the couple's pilfering was not poverty or hunger, as
was shown by a clever writer on the New York World who covered the
story that afternoon. Here is his write-up, in which the reader should
note the entire change of tone and the happy handling of the human
interest features:


Mrs. Emily Ewart, slender, petite, pretty, sat in
the police department to-day, tossed back her blue
fox neckpiece, patted her moist eyes with a
lace-embroidered handkerchief, carefully adjusted in
her lap the handsome fox muff which the police say
had but lately been the repository of seven eggs and
a box of figs, and told how she and her husband
happened to be arrested last evening as shoplifters.

As she talked, her husband, Charles Ewart,
thirty-one years old, sat disconsolately in a cell,
his modish green overcoat somewhat wrinkled, the
careful creases in his gray trousers a bit less
apparent, and his up-to-the-minute gray fedora a
trifle out of shape and dusty. Nevertheless, he
still retained the mien of dignity with which he met
his arrest in the grocery store of Jacob Bosch at
No. 336 St. Nicholas Avenue.

Of course, you understand, it was really Mrs.
Ewart's fault that she and her husband should stoop
to pilfering from a hardworking grocer eggs worth 42
cents (at their market value of 72 cents a dozen)
and a box of figs, net value one dime. At least, so
she told the police. She too, she said, led him to
appropriate a travelling bag worth $10 from a
downtown department store.

If it hadn't been for her, young Mr. Ewart might
have gone right along earning his so much per week
soliciting theatre curtain advertisements for the
Bentley Studios, at No. 1493 Broadway, and might
never have run afoul of the police.

The Ewarts, so the young woman's story ran, came
here from Chicago two weeks ago. Of their life in
the Western city she refused to tell anything. But
since coming to New York, she admitted, they had
travelled a hard financial road.

Detective Taczkowski's attention was first called to
Ewart in a downtown department store yesterday
afternoon, when Ewart tried to return a travelling
bag which he said his wife had bought for $10.
Investigation of the store's records showed Mrs.
Ewart had bought a bag for $3.95, but that the $10
bag had been stolen. Ewart was put off on a
technicality and the detective followed him when he
left the store. Outside Ewart was met by his wife.
Into the subway Taczkowski shadowed them and at last
the trail led to the Bosch grocery on St. Nicholas

In the store, Taczkowski kept his eyes on Mrs.
Ewart, in her modish gown and furs, while Ewart
engaged a clerk in conversation. Suddenly,
Taczkowski alleges, he saw an egg worth six cents
disappear from a crate into Mrs. Ewart's handsome
fur muff. Another egg followed, and another, he
says, until, like the children of the poem, they
were seven. When a box of figs followed the eggs,
Taczkowski says, he arrested the pair.

A search of the Ewarts' apartment at No. 646 St.
Nicholas Avenue, the police say, revealed a great
quantity of men's and women's clothing of the finest
variety. Mrs. Ewart, the police say, admitted she
had stolen the blue fox furs from a downtown store
and the police expect to identify much of the
handsome clothing found in the apartment as stolen

"We were hungry and had no money," Mrs. Ewart sobbed
at police headquarters. "We had all that clothing,
but not a cent to buy food. I am the one to blame,
for I encouraged my husband to steal."

Ewart and his wife were arraigned in Yorkville Court
before Magistrate Harris to-day and were held in
$500 bail each for further examination.[47]

[47] New York Evening World, November 11, 1915.

=263. New Facts
Generally in the "follow-up" it is the newly learned
facts that are featured. In the case of a sudden death, for instance,
it would be the funeral arrangements; in a railway wreck, the
investigation and the placing of blame. The following stories

=Story in a Morning Paper=

Dashing through a rain-storm with lightning flashes
blinding him, William H. Blanchard, manager for the
Wells Fargo Express Company, drove his automobile
off the approach of the open State Street bridge
to-night and was drowned. Otto Eller, teacher of
manual training in the West Side High School,
escaped by leaping into the river. Eller says the
warning lights were not displayed at the bridge.

When the automobile was recovered, it was shown that
the car was not moving fast, as it had barely
dropped off the abutment, a few feet from shore. The
bridge was open because its operating equipment had
been put out of order by a stroke of lightning.

=The Follow-up=

The body of William H. Blanchard, manager of the
Wells Fargo Express Company, who lost his life when
he drove an automobile into an open drawbridge, was
recovered this morning about 100 feet from where the
accident occurred.

Investigations have been started by the coroner and
friends to place the blame for the accident. The
electrical mechanism of the bridge was out of
commission on account of a storm and it was being
operated by hand. Spectators declare no warning
lights were on the bridge.

=264. Results Featured
Frequently the lead to the follow-up features
the results effected by the details of the earlier story:

=Original Story=

The total yield of the leading cereal crops of the
United States this year will be nearly 1,000,000,000
bushels less than last year. The government
estimates of the crop issued to-day showed
sensational losses in the spring wheat crop in the
Northwest, a further shrinkage in winter wheat, and
big losses compared to a month ago and last year in
corn and oats.

Both barley and rye figures also indicate greater
losses compared to a year ago than were shown in the
July government report.

=The Follow-up Next Day=

American wheat pits had a day of turmoil to-day such
as they have not seen since the stirring times when
war was declared in Europe.

Influenced by the startling government report
showing enormous losses in the spring wheat crop,
prices soared even more sharply than the wiseacres
had anticipated.

They were 5 to 8 cents higher when the gong struck,
the report, released after the close of 'change
Tuesday, having had its effect over night. At the
close they registered a gain of from 10-5/8 to
11-3/8 cents for the day. Wheat had gone above $1.50
a bushel. Two months ago it was around $1.05.

=265. Probable Results
Where no more important details can be
learned, it sometimes is wise to feature probable results.

A break in diplomatic relations between the United
States and Germany as a result of the torpedoing of
the Lusitania by a German submarine is the expressed
belief to-day of high Washington officials.

=266. Clues for Identification
In stories of crime, when the
offenders have escaped, the lead to the follow-up may begin with clues
for establishing the identity of the criminals.

If a piano tuner about forty years of age, wearing a
pair of silver spectacles and accompanied by a
petite, brown-eyed girl twenty years his junior,
comes to your house for work, telephone the Boston
police. They are the two, it is alleged, who robbed
the Mather apartments yesterday.

=267. Featuring Lack of News
In rare cases the very fact that there
is no additional news is worth featuring.

Up to a late hour to-night nothing had been heard of
Henry O. Mallory, prosecuting attorney in the Howard
murder case, who disappeared yesterday on his way to

=268. Opinions of Prominent Persons
An otherwise unimportant follow
story may sometimes be made a good one by interviewing prominent persons
and localizing the reader's interest in men or women he knows.

That the new eugenics law passed by the state
legislature of Wisconsin yesterday is doomed to
failure from the start, is the opinion of Health
Commissioner Shannon, who was in Madison when the
final vote was taken.

=269. Summary of Opinions
Sometimes, indeed, it is well to interview
a number of local persons and make the lead a summary of their views.

Widely different opinions were expressed by
prominent physicians, professors, clergymen, and
social workers throughout this city to-day on the
ethics of the course taken by Dr. H. J. Haiselden of
Chicago in allowing the defective son of a patient
to die.

=270. Connecting Links
In all these stories, the reader should note,
sufficient explanatory matter has been included to connect the incidents
readily with the events of the preceding days. This is important in
every follow-up; for always many readers will have missed the earlier
stories and consequently will need definite connection to relate the new
events with preceding occurrences. It is also important for these
connecting links to be included in, or to follow immediately after, the
lead, because they give the reader necessary facts for understanding the
new information--give him his bearings, as it were,--without which he
will not read far into the story.

=271. "Rewrites."=--While most stories are not complete on their first
appearance, it sometimes happens, nevertheless, that the first
publication of an item contains all the facts of interest to a paper's
readers and that priority of publication has been gained by another
journal. Yet the story will be of interest to the readers of one's own
paper and must be published. It is the duty of the rewrite man to handle
such a story, and to handle it in such a way that it shall bear no
resemblance to the story published by the other paper. For this reason
the most skillful reporters on a daily are the rewrite men. They must
find new features for old stories, or new angles of view, or new
relations of some kind between the various details.

=272. Bringing a Story up to the Minute
The first requisite in
rewriting is the necessity of making old news new, of bringing it up to
the minute. No matter when the events occurred, they must be presented
to the reader so that they shall seem current. Currency is all but a
necessity to life, vigor, interest in a yesterday's event. Here is an
item of news in point. Suppose the following story from an afternoon
paper is given a reporter on a morning daily:

Charged with running his car thirty miles an hour,
Dr. Harry O. Smith, prominent city physician with
offices in the Vincennes Building, was arrested on
Kentucky Street this afternoon by Motorcycle
Policeman DuPre. After giving bonds for his
appearance to-morrow, Dr. Smith left in his machine
for Linwood, where he was going when stopped by
Policeman DuPre.

Concerning his arrest Dr. Smith refused to make any
other statement than that he was on his way to see a

The reporter cannot see Dr. Smith to obtain additional facts, because
the doctor is out of town. Nor can he expect any more news, since the
case will not come up until some hours after his paper will have been in
the hands of its readers. It is also against journalistic rules to begin
with "Dr. Smith was arrested yesterday." That yesterday must be
eliminated from the lead. Here is the method one rewrite man used to
get out of the difficulty:

Even doctors will not be allowed to break the city
speed laws if one Cincinnati motorcycle policeman
has his way.

Another way in which he might have avoided the troublesome yesterday
would be:

One of the first cases on police docket this morning
will be the hearing of Dr. Harry O. Smith, prominent
Cincinnati physician with offices in the Vincennes
building, who was arrested on a charge of speeding
yesterday by Policeman DuPre.

Or he might have begun:

Whether the life of a sick patient is worth more
than that of a healthy pedestrian may be decided in
police court this morning.

In each of these rewrites it will be noted that the story has been
brought down to the time of the appearance of the paper.

=273. New Features
The next thing to seek in the story to be
rewritten is a new feature. Generally this is obtained in bringing the
story up to date. If not, the reporter may examine, as in the
"follow-up," to see whether the first story plays up the best feature,
or whether it does not contain another feature equally good, or one
possibly entirely overlooked. Failing here, he may look forward to
probable developments, as an investigation following a wreck, a search
by the police following a burglary, or an arraignment and trial
following an arrest. Failing again, he may consider whether some cause
or motive or agency for the fire or divorce or crime may not have gone
unnoticed by the other man. Or best of all, he may try to relate the
incident with similar events occurring recently, as in the case of a
number of fires, burglaries, or explosions coming close upon each
other. Whatever course he chooses, he should use his imagination to
good advantage, taking care always to make his rewrite truthful. Here is
the way a few rewrite men have presented their new old stories:

Result Featured


The question whether his life should have been
fought for or whether it was right to let him die is
over, so far as the tiny, unnamed, six-days-old
defective son of Mrs. Anna Bollinger is concerned.
The child died at the German-American hospital,
Chicago, at 7:30 last night, with Dr. H. J.
Haiselden, chief of the hospital staff, standing
firmly to his position that he could not use his
science to prolong the life of so piteously
afflicted a creature.

Connection with Preceding Events


The wild man who has been frightening school
children of Yonkers, scaring hunters in the woods,
and causing hurry calls to the police from timid
housewives, has been captured by the reserves of the
Second precinct. He was caught last night in Belmont
woods, near the Empire City race track.

Entirely New Feature Played Up


Ruth Camilla Fisher knew a country wherein her
beauty was specie of the realm. It was bounded by
the ninth and twelfth birthdays. Its inhabitants
consisted of Fritz, an adoring dachshund; "papa,"
who was a member of the school board and a great
man; and innumerable gruff little boys, who,
ostensibly ignorant of her observation, spat through
vacant front teeth and turned gorgeous somersaults
for her admiration. She was happy and the jealous
green complexion of the feminine part of her world
bothered her not at all.

And unsuspectingly Ruth came singing across the
borders of her ain countree to the alien land of
knowledge and disillusionment. Though she knew she
came from God, it was gradually borne upon her that
her girl-mother wandered a little way on the path of
the Magdalenes.

She was an interloper who had no gospel sanction in
the world, no visible parents other than a
foster-father and a foster-mother. Perfectly
respectable little girls began to inform her so with
self-righteous airs and with the expertness of
surgeons to dissect her from the social scheme that
governs puss-wants-a-corner with the same iron rule
that in later life determines who shall be asked to
play bridge and who shall be outlawed.

"Your parents aren't your own," was the taunt that
Ruth heard from playmates. Some of the little girls
added the poison of sympathy to the information. And
Ruth Camilla Fisher at 12 found herself a stranger
in a strange land.

She extradited herself Tuesday night with a revolver
shot in the temple. In the yard back of her
foster-parents' home at 5319 West Twenty-fifth
Street, Cicero, with one arm around the loyal Fritz,
she put the revolver to her head and pressed the

[48] Chicago Tribune, November 25, 1915.


The modern dance craze has brought a lot of
informality into a heretofore very proper Chicago.

Women whose husbands work during the daytime have
considered it not at all improper to flock to the
afternoon the dansants in many downtown cafes, there
to fox-trot and one-step with good-looking strangers
whose introduction--if there was an
introduction--was procured in a sort of professional

Probable Effect

Consequently there were about forty women in Chicago
who verged on total collapse yesterday if they
chanced to read of the terrible experience of Mrs.
Mercedes Fullenwider of 5432 Kimbark Avenue.

Probable Motive


If a finger print can tell a story, the police may
be able to prove by to-morrow night that pretty
Elsie Thomas, whose lifeless body was found in her
room at 1916 Pennsylvania Street last night, was not
a suicide. In the opinion of her brother, Wallace
Thomas, who was on his way from Lindale to see her,
Hans Roehm, who had promised to marry her, may have
been responsible for her death from cyanide of

=274. Condensation in Rewrites
It may be added in conclusion that
though rewrites are made to seem fresh and new, they are nevertheless
old news after all, and hence are not worth so much space as the
original story. Consequently, one will find that they usually run from
half to a fourth the length of the original; so that in rewriting one
need not hesitate--as the copy-readers tell the reporters--to "cut every
story to the bone." One must be careful in rewriting, however, not
merely to omit paragraphs in cutting down stories. Excision is not

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