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Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Men walk on moon; journalist gets right to point

I long have considered John Noble Wilford's lede in The New York Times of July 21, 1969, to be one of the best in newspaper history.

Rule of thumb: The bigger the event, the simpler the opening paragraph should be.

Forty years later, Mr. Wilford explains how it came about here.

Key excerpt:

I reach for my notebook and try several opening sentences. They must be put on a strict diet. I cross out adjectives. I eliminate clauses that are superfluous and sound too much like heavy music for a movie soundtrack. I begin again: “American astronauts landed.” No, too restrictive and chauvinistic; it will be clear soon enough that the astronauts are American and the goal of a decade has been achieved.

I finally get to the irreducible essence in one short sentence: “Men have landed and walked on the moon.”

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