During Tuesday’s lecture we had the much-needed discussion about how to format a decent lede. Coming from a high school background in journalism, I’ve been writing ledes for years. However, I’ve never really been the best at writing them.
Before entering the world of journalism, I absolutely loved creative writing – publishing a novel had always been my dream growing up. But as soon as I walked into my first journalism class, everything changed. I was told that my writing was great, but it needed to be more journalistic. I was overly verbose in my writing, and I needed to learn how to follow the cut-and-dry format that all journalists used. So, I adapted and my writing became bland and lacked emotion. Now, I struggle to write anything out of this style.
Hearing from my editor during this class, however, changed the way I’ve been looking at journalism for the past couple of years. It turns out, some of the best journalism out there is bold and risky. After being taught to write carefully and to keep objectivity in mind, it’s hard to believe that this can be the case.
One of my favorite examples that was given in lecture was former crime reporter Edna Buchanan’s “Gary Robinson died hungry.”
This was the lede in one of Buchanan’s stories for the Miami Herald, in which she described the crime scene that took place at a local Church’s Chicken restaurant. A man by the name of Gary Robinson drunkenly attempted to march to the front of the line, only to be told by the staff there that he had to wait like the rest of the customers. When Robinson got to the front of the line again, the store was out of chicken. Angrily, he attacked the worker and was then shot dead by security.
While Buchanan’s lede for this story was risky, I feel that it encompassed the story as best as it could.
As I continue on at the Missourian and in my career as a journalist, I strive to write as incredible a lede as Buchanan. Hopefully one day, I’ll be able to master clever lede-writing.