Bring out your bad ledes

Ah, journalism. On a crisp, bright morning in St. Petersburg, Fla., my News University colleagues and I started talking about bad ledes. When it comes to bad ledes, the dictionary defines them as — OK, that’s enough.

You know what a bad lede* looks like. They often involve cliches or tired tropes or slightly twisted song lyrics. In my case, the Bible played a role. Here’s one of my own, from a 2004 story in The St. Joseph News-Press.

“To every fruit tree, there is a season.”


My editor, Andrew Beaujon, did a bit of digging and found one of his own, from 2003 story for SPIN. “Please emphasize I’m sure I’ve written many worse ledes,” he told me. He’s written way worse ledes.

There are two kinds of music fans: those who are honest about what they like and those who claim to like everything. The latter were everywhere at the second annual Bonnaroo Music Festival, a jam-band event for people who claim there’s no such thing as jam bands. But the thing is they’re kind of right-as shrinking radio playlists and cash-strapped major labels leave more and more artists behind, more mainstream performers are following the jam movement’s lead. Considering that Bonnaroo’s 80,000 tickets sold out in 17 days, “going jam” seems like a wise career move.

Got one of your own to share? Tweet them, share them on our Facebook page or e-mail them to me,, and we’ll pull together bad lede buffet. I’d also love to hear your bad lede peccadillos. If you ever wanted to share your bad stuff, this post is for you. (The bad ledes in this post came from a few people who joined in on some bad ledeing this morning on Twitter. Thanks to them!)

*After even more naval-gazing, we decided to use the jargony term “lede” rather than the far more clear “lead” to refer to the first sentence of an article. In 2011, Steve Myers rounded up some of the strong feelings people have about “lede” vs. “lead.”

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  • abeaujon

    I guess that joke didn’t really work!

  • Rick Conrad

    Even though I thought they fit the stories at the time, I’ll nominate two of mine:

    Be-Leaf it or not. (on a story about the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 1992 NHL playoff run)


    Iguana, go home. (on a story written from a classified ad placed by a young couple looking for their lost pet iguana. Hyper-local before its time, people!) I still like “Iguana, go home.” But really, it was pretty bad. :)

  • Guest

    Wrong story. You want inadvertent typos. That’s down the hall. :)

  • LibertyHiller

    So when you say “naval-gazing,” you’re telling us that watching sailors helps you reach decisions?