‘Lede’ may be nostalgic fiction, but ‘CQ’ and ’30′ go back to telegraph days

Msnbc.com’s Bill Dedman responded to my lede vs. lead post to tell me that “CQ” (which indicates that something is correct) and “30″ (which notes the end of the story, and itself is the subject of nostalgia) originated with telegrapher’s codes such as the Phillips Code. Walter Phillips developed the shorthand in the late 1800s to aid the filing of news reports by telegraph. “POTUS,” which Politico apparently is required to place in at least one story each week, also is part of the Phillips Code. So is “SCOTUS.” Dedman wins today’s journalism history contest. (This post is the award.) || Marginally related: This seems an appropriate place to note that The New York Times’ breaking news blog is called “The Lede.” ||  Much more related: The Awl’s Choire Sicha takes up the anti-lede mantle, imploring New York Times editors to stop using the term “lede-all,” which apparently is a specific type of story at the Times. “Twitter is outward-facing!” Sicha writes. “We don’t work in your Renzo Piano building! Stop using wonky insider work terms that no one knows about or cares about!” Best retort to his post: “So, you want us to bury the lede, then.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Berman/100000669729095 Dan Berman

    Why are people so hung up about lede? I have worked in journalism since the ’70s and heave always heard and used it. Something that has been used for decades and is commonly used doesn’t need to be changed. All the other terms like SCOTUS and 30 were once new. Why not use the brain cells to discuss something that matters?

  • Anonymous

    Just because journalists don’t know the difference between led and lead doesn’t mean it wasn’t in common use. It was in use when I began newspapering in 1965.  As far as lede-all is concerned, that was in use back then to tell the desk and the printers that this was a new lede to top an already existent story. “TR for lede” on a galley proof would show the printer where the new lede would pick up the old copy.