Friday, July 08, 2011

Ledes: Why the extra words?

There seems to be in vogue among reporters the need to throw a few chosen extra words in ledes to "liven them up" or make them seem chummy.

To often, however, they just get in the way and just fuel the idea that the reporter has an agenda. Like this:
State Democrats clamoring for the resignation of Lt. Gov. Ken Ard might get some help from an unlikely source: Republican Attorney General Alan Wilson. 
 Why is "an unlikely source" needed? Isn't that clear from specifying that Democrats might get help from a Republican? Actually, it would be more profitable if the writer had specified that Ard is a Republican, instead of making the reader connect the dots.
State Democrats clamoring for the resignation of Republican Lt. Gov. Ken Ard might get help from another Republican, Attorney General Alan Wilson.
I think readers probably are smart enough with that to figure out it's unusual, dontcha think?

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At 7/8/11, 8:12 PM, Blogger Charles Keefer said...

You would have my vote on that except for the fact
that most readers already know that Lt. Gov. Ken Ard is a Republican and most Republicans vote in lockstep.

If your lede is for the The New York Times, it is better. If it is for The State, I like the added drama of the original.

The original lede also points out the fact that for lockstep Republicans, this is different.

The point of a lede is to get people to read the rest of the story. I think the original does a better job of that.

At 7/9/11, 12:04 PM, Blogger Doug said...


Not sure I agree with your "most readers" assessment. And it's easy to walk across the line from drama to shades of bias - I think that was crossed here.

Why, for instance, is the assumption that it would be unusual for an attorney general to do his job - review possible wrongdoing - because he's Republican and the target is Republican?

That makes an assumption I think is unwarranted and is reflected in the first sentence of your comment.
Fine for you to imply or come right out and say that. Not so for a news organization.



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