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editorial

Variety: Keep it short, in print or cyberspace

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Online competition has battered Variety, the venerable Hollywood trade newspaper that announced last week that it will cease daily publication and switch to a weekly format. Yet its contributions to the English language will still echo in the Internet age.

Outside the movie industry, Variety was perhaps best known for its snappy headlines — including the infamous “Sticks Nix Hick Pix,” for a 1935 article about the unpopularity of farm movies among rural theatergoers — and its ruthless economy with words, as if each letter were a precious commodity. In Variety, an audience is an aud; money is coin; critics are crix.

At a time when telegraph companies charged by the word, parsimony in writing was literally a valuable skill. For a time, the unlimited space of the Internet seemed to eliminate any need for such succinctness. Yet the emergence of Twitter, with its 140-character cap, showed that cheeky statements in short-and-sweet language never go out of style. In its latest incarnation, both in print and online, Variety should keep on keeping it short. Aud and crix alike will approve.

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