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Bad lead dissected on Poynter

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SF_Express, Jul 12, 2007.

  1. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Link to the Poynter page, not trying to steal uncredited from Jim:


    Here's his item:

    Here's a lede that Reporting 101 profs might want to clip

    Brunswick-Bath Times Record | Times-Standard

    Have your students discuss what's wrong with this:

    Except for a tragic accident, the 35th annual Bath Heritage Days parade went off without a hitch.
    Columnist James Faulk notes: That's like saying "Minus overt biases and outright lies printed as fact, the Daily Herald was a fantastic newspaper." (Unfortunately, readers aren't told any more about the "tragic accident.")

    Here's the link to Faulk's column:


    And here's the thing. This story MUST have been a sidebar to a story about the tragic accident, but it's absolutely unbelievable that by reading the one, you have no idea what accident occurred.

    I know it's a small paper. This goes beyond that.
  2. Left_Coast

    Left_Coast Active Member

    I did some digging and found a message board about it.


    I saw the event up close.

    A gentleman on a rider lawnmower was pulling a small trailer. If I remember correctly, there were a few children, maybe three, in the trailer.

    As the lawnmower passed the Sagadahoc Cty Sheriff's station, heading down Centre Street, the operator appeared to be having trouble finding the right gear. He was smiling nervously, and no one suspected trouble.

    Then the mower gained speed and began overtaking the floats in front of it. At this point I could no longer see the mower, but one could tell from the looks of shock on the faces pf the spectatotrs, and the screams from down the hill, that the mower was out of control.

    It must have either hit something, someone, or simply flipped over to a stop as it reached the bottom of the hill, because that was where the ambulance showed up.

    Good thing about a parade, there are always plenty of First Responders around.
  3. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Reminds me of a headline that once appeared in a very good metro newspaper I worked out. Bad day for the desk, I guess:

    'Death of six mars family's Thanksgiving'
  4. Left_Coast

    Left_Coast Active Member

    Here's the mainbar from the paper:

  5. Left_Coast

    Left_Coast Active Member

    But the cranberry sauce turned out fine.
  6. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Well, except we don't know the condition of Mr. Shapiro, that makes the lead in question even worse, because at this point, it doesn't really fit the definition of a tragedy, either, I don't think.
  7. Left_Coast

    Left_Coast Active Member

    It's like a football player being carted off the field for a neck injury. Mainbar on the injury (in this case, the accident), but the game (parade) continued.
    Still, you HAVE to mention the accident in the sider.
  8. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    This got emailed to my entire newsroom today.
  9. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    The only time in my career I made an editorial decision on another section was when I saw a Page 1 proof that had a story about a kid who was hit by a car and died.

    The lede read, "[Kid's Name] learned the hard way not to play in the street."

    I was probably barely a year in the business at the time, but the assistant news editor and news editor (who wrote the story) were even greener. I called the assistant news editor over and said that under no circumstances should that story run as is and that he should change it or the paper would be in a world of shit.

    Thankfully, he changed it.

    I doubt the guy who wrote it even knows how much I saved his ass that day.
  10. Breakyoself

    Breakyoself Member

  11. oh
  12. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    This wasn't a lede, but a teaser from a story I once wrote at the paper I used to be. My story was about a football player whose mother has just been diagnosed with cancer a second time. First time, she was given six months to live and she beat it. This time, she was given six months again. I wrote the story right at the start of the seventh month after she was diagnosed. She was in fine shape (she died about two years later).

    I never mentioned that she was terminal since she had beaten cancer once already. Yet, the ME wrote a teaser on the front saying, "Dying mother inspires player."

    My jaw hit the floor when I got my paper later that afternoon.
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