In print journalism, the “lede” is the first paragraph of a story. The word itself is a rather new word, first making an appearance in the 50s as some sort of instruction to printers. It was most likely intentionally misspelled so as to set it apart from those pesky actual words in the text of articles.
The origin of the word and why it is spelled in such a bizarre fashion isn’t as important. What is most important is that the lede must never ever ever ever ever be buried.
The lede sentence must be the most eye-catching, attention-grabbing, and most newsworthy thing in the entirety of any written news article. This is for two very important reasons:
- If the lede sentence is incredibly compelling, the thinking goes, the reader will want to read the remainder of the article.
- This is probably the only part of the article that will actually get read.
Regardless of whether or not a reader actually gets past the lede, journalism requires that the most important detail be reported first. This is part of the inverted pyramid format. If there just happens to be some detail more important than what is contained in the lede sentence that appears lower in the article, that is known as “burying the lede” and as any astute reader will recall, the lede must never ever ever ever ever be buried.
While burying a lede may not have the same dire consequences as getting a Mogwai wet or feeding it after midnight, it has been known to cause many an editor to blow his or her stack. This is not good for anyone in the newsroom and should be avoided at all costs.