Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Who's in charge at The Herald?

A prime example on the Herald's website today of the sloppy journalism that can result when a newspaper rushes a story into print on the Internet without editing.

Journalists normally write stories using the "inverted pyramid" style of journalism which places the most important information at the top of the story.

The Miami Herald's Adam Beasley threw the rule book out the window today in his haste to get his story online.

Adam's lede paragraphs:
"A horrific motorcycle wreck in Lauderhill on Wednesday left an entire block of Broward Boulevard littered with debris and killed the rider, according to authorities.

"Police said the driver was Joseph Thomas Jr., 29, of Lauderhill.

"Atop a black Suzuki he purchased Tuesday, Thomas slammed into a curb Wednesday morning, then was tossed into a tree. The bike disintegrated."
An alert reader might infer from the first paragraph that the fact the accident left Broward Boulevard "littered with debris" was more important than the rider dying.

And a more experienced writer might have included in the lede the fact that the bike was just purchased yesterday rather than saving it for the third graph. A touch of irony always elevates a mediocre story to something a bit more compelling and readable. And young Adam waits until the fourth graf to tell us the rider wasn't wearing a helmet.

Whoever wrote the headline also shares some of the blame: "Motorcyclist tossed into tree in Lauderhill" Is that the best you guys can do?

Note to Herald: It's probably too late to get those furloughed copy editors back, but now might as good a time as any to have Edna Buchanan drop by the newsroom and share some tips with the cub reporters on how to craft compelling ledes.

She has a Pulitzer you know!

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