Today’s lesson in newspapers is: The Lede.
The lede is the first paragraph of a story. It should provide a concise yet interesting generalization of what the full story is about while remaining entirely relevant. It should not be like the following, as captured by astute Internet person John Bowman:
If you read that lede and assumed the rest of the story would be about how Call of Duty makes veterans want to throw themselves off cliffs, you would be misled. According to Bowman, the video game isn’t ever mentioned again in the article. While the two facts of the lede are true, they do not necessarily go together. It’s as journalistically ethical as saying:
Just as annual sales of Thanksgiving hams reach record highs, so has the infant mortality rate associated with the H1N1 virus.
which gives the implication that a baby dies with each bite of your succulent Virginia ham. I’m not saying it doesn’t–you could have some sort of creepy Saw thing going on–but it’s not directly related to the swine flu.
But perhaps I’m attempting to analyze Celia Milne’s lead too deeply. Perhaps there is a much simpler translation that can be applied as to why she chose to write the way she did:
Just as my boyfriend continues to be so obsessed with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 that he has refused to answer my calls for three days, SOLDIERS ARE DYING. REAL ONES, BRAD. NOT ONES IN YOUR STUPID LITTLE SHOOTING GAME. WHY DON’T YOU COME UP FOR SOME AIR AND TAKE A LOOK AROUND AT REALITY–AT ME–YOU STUPID JERK?
And if that’s the case, I might actually be able to side with her on that.