HomeLettersThrough a glass darkly

Through a glass darkly

LIFE must be tough from where you sit. I imagine you pray all day for simple truths, straight answers and short letters.

Think what it was like for Gustave Flaube

rt (1821-1880), author of Madame Bovary, who wrote in 1850:

“From time to time, I open a newspaper. Things seem to be proceeding at a dizzy rate. We are dancing not on the edge of a volcano, but on the wooden seat of a latrine, and it seems to me more than a touch rotten.

Soon society will go plummeting down and drown in nineteen centuries of s***. There’ll be quite a lot of shouting.”

I address this to a man I know to be a brave editor with a sharp wit. Your weekly take on Zimbabwe puts me in the big picture every time. The message that you and your writers deliver is clear and largely factual.

Would it were more concise. Nothing concentrates the mind more than a short sentence in the Zimbabwe Independent.

Your boldness and wit are also blunted, alas, by poorly printed type. Indeed, you rake your muck through a messy medium. Clumsy design and clichéd typography merely add to the blur.

In a letter to Louise Colet, on February 7 1853, Flaubert writes:

“Eternal mediocrity … I’m so fed up with typography and the misuse people make of it that if the emperor were to abolish all printing tomorrow, I should walk all the way to Paris on my knees and kiss his a *** in gratitude.”

The Fingaz isn’t exactly pretty in pink either, and ink and newsprint make a muddy mix in the Daily News, which apparently has as much hardship registering the colours in its photographs as it does with registering its title with the Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment.

I behold you and your fellows as through a glass, darkly. If you must cast us pearls, let them shine all the more brightly for lucid layouts and careful origination.

Please do your writers a favour and hold them fast to brevity. Flatter your readers and correspondents with roomy columns of type and bright pictures on pages served up to be read at leisure.

Go one step further and tell them – the sub-editors you employ, the fellows you nudge monthly at the editors’ forums, and the printers who weekly smudge your labour – about type and its importance to free expression.

It’s time to stand up and be counted, legibly!

Anonymous A1,


Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading