Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Ledes: Zig left, zag right - constructing thin air out of ... thin air

You don't have to be spot on the bull's eye when writing a lede, but it is nice if you kind of open somewhere in the general neighborhood of the story.

It seems to be of fashion these days for writers to indulge their fantasies in ledes that start out with a faux anecdote -- one that is about as close to the actual point of the story as, say, Greenland is to Antarctica (well, yes, they're both cold) -- only to give the perplexed reader whiplash as it snaps back the point.

Our latest exhibit:

On Sept. 13, 1899, Henry Hale Bliss stepped off a streetcar at 74th and Central Park West, and walked right into the path of a taxicab, and into the record books. He was the first person in the Americas to be killed by a car. Getting killed by a car was a new thing, and very big news.
The Ooyala Q3 Global Video Index is the opposite of that. 

For several quarters in a row, Ooyala and other companies have been reporting growth--ridiculously large increases--in online video viewership or other up-worthy stats.  Ooyala is  doing that again this morning and it’s news only in that the numbers are growing at such a absurdly fast clip, all around the world, so that now the thing to do is find the biggest crazy number, and note it.

 What's even worse is when you're on a mobile device (or even on a desktop reading a digest) and the summary line actually gives you a sense of the news -- only to click through and have to wade through this to get back to the original point.

No one's suggesting you have to be sparse about it, but a little less self-indulgence, please.

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