Remodeling. Please pardon the heterogeneity and potsherds. < ; )
Journalism Image
Established 1996
Over 400 articles



Journalism Series







The End - pie and coffee

Copyright © 2005 Dorian Scott Cole
About this series.


Is there indifference about the news? Perhaps it is that no one cares. If no one cares, perhaps it is because they don't know to care. This begs the question, should the reporter/narrator tell the people why they should care? One school might say that this is talking down to the intelligent audience. But can all people understand the implications of all stories if they don't know the implications of every possible happening in the world?

Come for the meal, stay for the pie and coffee.

Pie and coffee have a lot of symbolic meaning in people's lives. Coffee symbolizes musings and discussion - chit chat between friends. It is our way of exploring things and coming to understand them. Pie is the sweet thing that ends a meal. It adds a sense of peacefulness and closure. We want the same thing at the end of a story.

What we need is a really good cup of coffee.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee."
- Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of US (1809 - 1865)

"This coffee plunges into the stomach...the mind is aroused, and ideas pour forth like the battalions of the Grand Army on the field of battle.... Memories charge at full gallop...the light cavalry of comparisons deploys itself magnificently; the artillery of logic hurry in with their train of ammunition; flashes of wit pop up like sharp-shooters."
- Honore de Balzac, French realist novelist (1799 - 1850)

Quotes source: The Quotation Page

"The End" at the end of a story is not the resolution. "The ending," is transitive - it is a transition, a period of time in which things are concluded. The effect of the event is seen or speculated about. After the climax (when someone clearly wins), the event has an effect on people's lives - an outcome.

Outcomes. After Johnny is freed from the torture of being falsely imprisoned, he goes to college. After Paula's child survives the horrendous operation, Paula takes her to school. After losing in a terribly expensive court battle, John feels he can hardly survive financially. After winning a huge lottery, Michael is flat broke in three months. In stories, the conflict or emotional peak is resolved, and the continuing implications are that life is reaffirmed, or we are given a warning, or we learn something important.

The outcome, or potential outcome, carries much more meaning than the event. In a story, the resolution contains the future implications. It answers the question, "What does this mean to me?"

Resolution: How does the story end (if it does), and what does it mean to us? Some stories are tragic and tell us to watch out. Other stories are life-affirming and assure us that things will work out (the pie). Some stories simply transport us to another place mentally and emotionally, and entertain us. All are important. It's even more interesting when reporters and anchors end with personal musings or question each other lightly about the ending and what it means in people's lives (the coffee). Similar techniques are used to good effect (at this writing) on several news shows, such as 20/20, CBS Evening News, CNN Headline News, and Fox and Friends.

A story ends in the resolution.


Main Entry: res·o·lu·tion
Pronunciation: "re-z&-'lü-sh&n"
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English resolucioun, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French resolucion, from Latin resolution-, resolutio, from resolvere.
1 : the act or process of resolving : as a : the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones b : the act of answering : SOLVING c : the act of determining.
5 : the point in a literary work at which the chief dramatic complication is worked out.
Copyright © 2005 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated

Etymology - Resolution: "a breaking into parts," from L. resolutionem (nom. resolutio) "process of reducing things into simpler forms," from pp. stem of resolvere "loosen" (see resolve). Originally sense of "solving" (as of mathematical problems) first recorded 1548, that of "holding firmly" (in resolute) 1533, and that of "decision or expression of a meeting" is from 1604.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © November 2001 Douglas Harper

A communicator serves the full meal. Not just the headline, not just the meat of the story, not just the coffee, but the pie, too.

Pie doesn't come from nothing - it comes after everything else.
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe."
- Carl Sagan
US astronomer & popularizer of astronomy (1934 - 1996)
Quotes source: The Quotation Page

The job of a communicator is to bring things into focus. He doesn't talk about all of the stones in the universe, he talks about the one that killed Goliath and how that will change the course of history. He doesn't talk about all of the thieves in the world, he talks about the one who is using a new way to rob you, and what you can do to prevent it. He doesn't talk about all of the politicians in the Senate, he talks about the one who is trying to cut your taxes and how much extra money you will have to spend each year.

Communicators architect stories so that they focus in on what is important - focus so they have impact. If it is newsworthy, it is because it has impact in people's lives. If it is going to have impact in people's lives, then it should be in the news. If it is an event, then the communicator has to figure out what impact it may have in people's lives.

Is there so much apathy in life? Are there so many people who lack purpose and live their lives in passionless disregard for everything that communicators report? Why should they care? Are events so bland that we can't tell if they are coffee or tea? If events are reported as if they have no meaning and no impact, then they have no meaning and no impact. Can the coffee plunge into the mind, and cause passions to mobilize the apathetic? If a reporter can say, "This is what happened. This is what it means to you. This is what you can do to improve your life," then the news won't die - it will be an integral and useful part of everyone's lives.

- Scott


Other distribution restrictions: None

Return to main page

Page URL: