In Week Before Labor Day, Pointless 'Filler' Columns Abound
Lazy Columnists Pad Out Stories by Quoting Experts, Experts SayBy Andy Borowitz
In a phenomenon that occurs every year in the week before Labor Day, national columnists across America file pointless, content-free "filler" columns, enabling the lazy scribes to hit the beach earlier, according to observers who have been following this trend.
The "filler" columns are churned out in a matter of minutes with no loftier goal than meeting a deadline and filling up space -- meaning that columnists will often resort to using the same words or phrase again and again and again and again and again.
And rather than doing any original writing, the slothful columnists will rely on so-called "experts" to supply them with quotes to fill up space, experts say.
"They'll often quote people you've never heard of," says Harold Crimmins, an expert in the field of filler columns. "It's pretty shameless."
The typical "filler" column is often a reprint of a previously published column, but the writer will later plug in one cursory reference to current events, such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics, to disguise this fact.
And in order to fill up space even faster, Crimmins says, the lazy beach-bound columnist will compose his summer "filler" columns with short paragraphs.
Many of these paragraphs will be as short as one sentence, he says.
"Or shorter," he adds.
There are other telltale signs a reader can look for in order to determine whether a writer has, in fact, filed a so-called "filler" column, according to Crimmins.
One of these is a tendency to repeat information that the reader has already read earlier in the article, with columnists even stooping to using the same quote twice.
"They'll often quote people you've never heard of," Crimmins says.
Another tip-off is if the column ends abruptly.