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"Down with anecdotal ledes!"

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Pulitzer Wannabe, Dec 10, 2007.

  1. Sorry, not buying it. There's a time and a place for anecdotal ledes -- for example, just about any feature -- and a time to dive right into the hard news with an AP lede. And if you've read the wire lately, you'll see the old-fashioned AP lede is done away with when you have optional ledes, etc.
  2. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I think it's way overdone. I think it has its place in maybe one or two pieces on each section front, but as with a lot of things, we overreact and try to make decisions by formula and apply it to everything. The whole idea of "making the reader want to read" -- whether via anecdotal leads, indirect, obscure headlines or cluttered "multiple points of entry" or all three -- is self-important and disrespectful of people's time. Some stories are just minor stories and should be treated like minor stories. It's just ego on our part. Want to make someone want to read? Have interesting story ideas. Don't try to make dull shit interesting by telling it slower. You just bore people even more.
  3. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    Thank you, Frank.

    Get to the fucking point, boys and girls.

    As a reader, the last thing I want to have to do is figure out what the hell the story's about after three paragrpahs.
  4. Some Guy

    Some Guy Active Member

    I think there's a fine line.

    I want a story to get to the fucking point.
    I also want a story to tell me why the fuck I should care, and how the fuck it could affect me. Often, though not always, this is best accomplished with an anecdotal lede. In philosophy, I am all for personalizing a story that otherwise would have been inaccessible.

    Like I said, fine line. You can separate the good writers from the bad ones by how well he or she can tread it.
  5. expendable

    expendable Well-Known Member

    Ron White: I never had much of a vocabulary. In fact, my friend Bob Schnieder would still be alive today if I'd known the difference between "antidote" and "anecdote". He got bitten by a copperhead, and I'm telling him funny stories out of Reader's Digest. His head started to swell, I said "This ain't working". He goes, "READ FASTER!!"
  6. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    Alas, my wife once worked for an editor who informed her she should use more "antidotes" in her stories. And he said it an-tee-dotes.
  7. Left_Coast

    Left_Coast Active Member

    Totally agree. It's like seeing a headline playing off the photo. It has it's place now and then. But when overdone -- and I see it a lot -- I want to gag.
  8. broadway joe

    broadway joe Guest

    Exactly right. Like any other device, anecdotal ledes aren't appropriate for every story and can be a waste of time in the hands of a poor writer. But sometimes they are the perfect way to engage a reader. Example: I read a story a while back about MRSA, the drug-resistant bacteria that's a growing health hazard among athletes. The story began with an anecdote about a small-college wide receiver who caught three TDs on Saturday and was dead from this infection by the following Wednesday. If it had skipped the anecdote and just gotten straight to the point -- MRSA starts out seeming harmless but can be lethal in a hurry -- it probably wouldn't have been compelling enough to keep me reading.
  9. silentbob

    silentbob Member

    If we're actually discussing the opinions of a California political writer, we truly have lost our way.
  10. GBNF

    GBNF Active Member

    I disagree completely.

    I enter every story like I have to do my best to get a reader hooked. And a reader sure as shit aiin't hooked with: Podunk High beat Valley High 7-4 last night in girl's soccer." If it takes me two paragraphs to describe the look on a coach's face, and how his reaction was warranted given the loss, so be it.
  11. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Ah, sometimes those stories have to get to the point pretty quickly, GB -- especially if there are space issues.

    There are places for everything -- we shouldn't throw out anecdotal leads, and we shouldn't do them when there's no time or space to accommodate them.
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