How The Daily’s David Knowles came up with the ‘Best. Lede. Ever.’
Romenesko Misc. | The Daily
He coulda been a credenza. That lede on David Knowles' piece about the estate of Marlon Brando suing a retailer over its "Brando" furniture line has gone viral. "I've been pretty surprised by the reaction," Knowles tells me. "Right away, I heard back from a few editors at the Daily. Messages like "Best. Lede. Ever." Great to have that kind of encouragement from the people one works with." On Thursday - the day after the story ran - there were plaudits in his inbox and on his Facebook page, some from Daily colleagues, and a few from old friends. Knowles writes in an email:
By mid-day we saw that journalists and professors were re-tweeting it, and then knew that we should try to push it a bit further in the social media sphere. As far as I know there are no awards for best lede, but Jebediah Reed (at the Daily) nominated it for that category. FARK ended up picking up the story yesterday, and I'm still seeing tweets and getting e-mail about it. Essentially, I think it worked because it made people laugh and distilled the essence of the dust up between a film icon and a furniture company.
The idea for it came as Mike Nizza (the Daily's Managing Editor) and I were joking around via IM. We often do that when discussing discussing how to attack a story. We were sending potential hashtags about the piece back and forth. Can't remember them all, but one was #Kurtzsectionals, and then I typed #icouldabeenacredenza. That got a laugh, but he didn't say, Yes, that's the lede! Cracking jokes in a lede is a tricky matter, especially when there's a serious matter you're covering (even a lawsuit), but I decided to go for it in this case.
What's your second best lede? I asked. "I don't know. I've written 2-3 pieces per day for about 5 years now, and none of the ledes have ever garnered this much response. Probably, I'll end up putting it on my tombstone: Here lies the man who wrote the lede "He coulda been a credenza."