In this last post of the month, instead of re-telling a current news story, I shall again comment on the situation to which Take 2 is addressed; hence also the form of address which I am trying to develop here. In short, imagine the news painted by J.M.W. Turner, i.e. composed to show how ‘all that is solid melts into air’; a form of depiction or objectification which reveals both the particular nature and also the general movement of the objects/people/people as objects which are being described. Thus the first reason for Take 2 is truth. Take 2 takes it that news which is true to life must be constituted in a more dynamic form – more dynamic than the spuriously fixed character which old-fashioned reporting has acquired; more true to life than latterday versions of New Journalism which seem to have become trite as well as long-winded. As well as being good for news, however, Take 2 also has an eye on what’s good for the news business – especially since this is now so much in doubt. At a time when basic information is freely and almost immediately available from a combination of Twitter and Google-driven algorithms, what can professional reporters do that news consumers will be willing to pay for? Whenever this question is posed, the stock answer is: expertise. It is said that the people formerly known as readers, erstwhile consumers who are now more like ‘prosumers’ (producer-consumers) of news, will pay for access to expert knowledge embodied in the journalists employed by commercial news organisations. Thus will the news business be saved, allegedly. This may turn out to be the case, up to a point; but the gaping hole in the expert-journalist model is that expertise is already widely and freely available in the blogosphere. Instead of solving the question hanging over the commercial viability of news, the stock answer does little more than move it to a different place in cyberspace. Expertise may be important, but it is not, on its own, sufficient. In response, Take 2 proposes that composition should take pride of place, alongside expert knowledge but also slightly superior to it. This is to say that the future of professional news reporting ultimately depends on the ability of news reporters as writers – writers who can compose reports of events which would prompt readers to say ‘so that’s what it was all about!’; even if some of those readers had been present themselves at the event which the professional reporter is reporting on. On the relatively small number of occasions when I have proposed composition as journalism’s ‘killer app’, the response has been that the punters won’t get it, or words to that effect. But in the remainder of this post I demonstrate that there is already a widespread appetite for literary composition, as shown in the popular pleasure to be had from copywriting in both tabloid journalism and advertising. We journalists should seek to extend this appetite, i.e. create a new need for a new level of composition which would become the defining characteristic of professional news journalism. “Flapjack Whack Rap Claptrap: School ban on ‘dangerous’ triangle oat snacks.” Beneath the skyline, “Exclusive: ‘Elf and Safety Nonsense”, this was theSun’s front page headline on Monday 25th March 2013, introducing a story about the head teacher of a Canvey Island school who banned triangular flapjacks after a boy was reportedly injured by a ‘flying oaty morsel’. The ‘sore eye’ suffered by a Year 7 pupil would not normally constitute headline news. The story was partly propelled by the Sun’s no-nonsense attitude towards official busy-bodies and officious do-gooders; but it only made pole position because it lends itself to the composition of a humorous headline followed by tongue-in-cheek body copy. At the end of the first para, ‘morsel’ is knowingly anachronistic. What will they think of next – ‘damsel’? This is headline news for people who don’t believe everything they read in the newspapers, written by journos who don’t always take themselves too seriously, either. But theSun’s subs’ desk is notoriously serious about its standard of writing; and rightly so, since the connection readers make with the Sun occurs largely through shared enjoyment of what the subs have composed for them. That’s how the punters know it’s the Sun shining. As a tiny example of literary composition, ‘flapjack whack rap claptrap’ bears comparison with Dylan Thomas’ ‘sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboatbobbing sea’, in the opening stanza of Under Milk Wood (1954). There is musicality in both. Yet compared to Thomas’ poetry, the Sun’s playful prose is something of a one-chord band. Most of the verbal compositions appearing under its red top are the accompaniment to a broadly cynical ethos, in which playfulness is close to being the last resort of the spiritually defeated. In constructing a connection between reader and writer, therefore, the Sun’s sub-editor/composers are also setting levels of disengagement among the reading public, whose presence in public life is diminished accordingly. Nonetheless, much of the bond between the UK’s biggest selling daily newspaper and its readership, is composed through wordplay. Composition is key to the Sun’s continued success. Advertising copy also uses verbal composition to build connections with readers, viewers and listeners. Unlike Sun-speak, it plays in different registers, ranging from humour and whimsy to love, despair and conviviality. While some such compositions are tedious and sentimental, others are engagingly poetic, e.g. the TV advert for McDonald’s (Leo Burnett 2013) which repeats the refrain ‘Nah, you’re all right’, in order to choreograph the quasi-courtship dance between a teenage boy and his mum’s new live-in partner. But the drawback attached to this kind of composition is its permanent attachment to the commodities it advertises. In the last instance, however beautifully told, these miniatures of human life only exist so that their paymaster-brands can assume greater significance – taking on larger-than-life dimensions. Editorial which is well-composed but one-dimensional versus advertising copy that spans a wider range but always in praise of marketable things and their eventual superiority over people: sounds like we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. But what if we could have news reporting that spans as wide a range of human attributes, without being attached either to corporate brands or to a specific brand of barely disguised cynicism? Wouldn’t that be worth paying for? Could this even be the future of journalism, now that so much basic information is freely available by algorithm? Take 2 is an experiment in composition which also aims to affirm the wider role of composition in the future of news reporting.