The female rock quartet Warpaint, a band profiled in today’s Weekend Pass, an arts and entertainment guide produced by The Washington Post’s Express.

From brevity to the web
By Dickson Mercer

Brevity is the soul of wit — Shakespeare

Brevity is the soul of lingerie — Dorothy Parker

Or maybe His Dudeness, or Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing — The Dude

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of brevity, The Washington Post’s Express – a free, daily tabloid mainly distributed outside the Metro – provides a daily example of how to effectively present a big article in a small space.

Launched in 2003, Express offers condensed versions of the day’s news and more. Yellow-vested distributors hand them out outside the Metro; the idea is that readers should be able consume it before exiting the train.

A must-read for me, though, is Express’ Weekend Pass, a tabloid within a tabloid published Thursdays. It’s a great source for arts reporting. Plus, I really enjoy finding out about all the cool exhibits and shows I rarely have time to check out.

Operating out of the main Post building in the District, the Express gets most of its content from Post staffers and the Associated Press.

The content for Weekend Pass, on the other hand, is produced in-house. It has a section editor, and the articles – defining the art of short feature writing – are produced by staffers and by local freelancers. Each piece, no matter how brief, contains a sharp voice and a clear, interesting hook.

But Express also produces a website, Express Night Out, where you will find all of The Weekend Pass’ content presented for a different reader – one that has a little more time. Here, then, is where Interactive Journalism students should pay attention.

One bonus of Web journalism is that the format will never have to deal with editorial cuts, as I’m currently dealing with at Southern Maryland Newspapers. Within this limitless space at Express Night Out, though, we do not find more text. We find the same article enhanced by interactivity.

The cover story this week – read it here – is a profile of an all-female rock quartet, Warpaint, a Los Angeles band that will play at the Rock and Roll Hotel on Saturday. In the print edition you will find a cool design plus an eye-catching sidebar. On the Web, however, you will find the article, a sidebar and several YouTube videos that round out the presentation.

Let’s say you have never heard of Warpaint but the article has piqued your interest. Ultimately, before getting to your computer at work and forking over $14 at RNR Hotel’s website, you might want to put on your earphones, make sure the coast is clear and see if – article or review aside – you really do like the music.

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