Six Ws

Journalists are taught to look for the six Ws – who, what, where, when, why and how. I know ‘how’ ends, rather than starts, with a W, but that’s close enough for journalism.

Rudyard Kipling put it better, describing the questions as ‘six honest serving-men’.

From The Elephant’s Child, by Rudyard Kipling

(Kipling’s daughter, Elsie Bambridge, claimed that the poem referred to her as a little girl when, due to the number of questions she asked, she was known in the family as ‘Elsie Why’)

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small-
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!

She sends ’em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes-
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!

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