Chronicler of Life at the Drive-Thru
This piece by reporter Charlie LeDuff can be found in the NYT and the Dallas Morning News. Interesting that the DMN credits only the "NYT News Service" and omits the byline. Bad enough that a DMN staffer didn't do it--they couldn't give credit where it's due?
The subject is the employee at a Burger King drive-through window on a rough side of Dallas. She's a woman struggling to make it on $200 a week, putting up with drunks who throw fries at her and a cook who sneezes on the meat patties.
Yes, it's a fine piece on first read, full of colorful phrases such as this: "The night is busy, and a mustache of perspiration breaks across her lip."
But read it again. Do you detect any sense of the smarter-than-thou reporter looking down on his subject with a hint of disdain? Of pity? Of even an ounce of empathy?
Notice that LeDuff mentions in the first graf that the woman he's profiling is overweight and wears pink lipstick. Read the line about how she feeds her kids. Don't have to be Columbo to detect the air of disapproval.
What do you think of writing like this? I'd really like to know.