Slate’s Jack Shafer writes this evening about the simplicity behind the writing of New York Times’ business columnist Joseph Nocera.
Schafer wrote, “Nocera is no egomaniac, I’d point out. He reaches for the first-person because it allows him an intimacy with his readers. The column is so much a one-on-one conversation over a coffee or a beer, the way a good sports column is. On more than one occasion during the year Nocera has been writing his Saturday Times column, I’ve lifted my head out of his copy to shout to nobody in particular, ‘Hey, somebody put a sports column in the Times business section!’
“By the third paragraph I’d have teed up my premise: Nocera demystifies the world of business with original thinking, brainy reporting, and the ability to see around corners. Although opinionated, he’s not really a pundit who tells you what he thinks about executive pay or stock options or antitrust as much as what he’s learned from his reporting. Because it’s harder to show than to tell, Nocera’s pieces run between 1,400 and 2,000 words, epic length compared to the Times’ other columnists. For that reason I like to think of him as a weekly feature writer and not a columnist.
“From his decade at Fortune, Nocera knows that business pundits are the dumb guys at the tableâ€”that if you have real smarts you’re probably making money or have made a lot of moneyâ€”and brings an uncharacteristic modesty to his work. Not every Nocera column comes equipped with a solution to that week’s business-world problem. But when Nocera reaches a conclusion, he’s not shy.”
Read more here.