Rantings and respect: the search for ledes

I miss Seattle. After living there for a year as a freshman at Seattle Pacific University, that quirky, damp city is still tied securely around the fondest place in my heart. This fondness is why I still read The Seattle Times every day. Not only does it serve as a way for me to indulge in nostalgic memories, but  I often find very good examples of journalism in this publication, so it only entices me to read it more.

Today, I found a lede worth remembering in a travel article about walking across America.  This lede instantly gives me the human interest part of the story. It doesn’t make me go searching for why cross-country walking treks are important to write about. Within the first two sentences, I already know why 29-year-old Ken Ilgunas hikes cross-country. By knowing what he values out of his experience, I can instantly visualize him.  I know this is a feature-ish lead, but hey, I’m a Vox reporter this semester. 

Now, the search for the less shiny, great example. I now turn to my hometown’s newspaper, the Jefferson City News Tribune. This is in no way to bash the News Tribune. I worked as a weekly columnist for the publication when I was a senior in high school, and often get my hometown news from its online stories.

Today, however, I just so happened to find a lede that needs a little polishing. This story about a Jefferson City-based program called Halo that works with the homeless and at-risk youth of the capital city. I didn’t learn that from the lede, though. I actually didn’t even learn that from the story.I had to go to HALO’s website and find it. The story discusses one woman’s position within HALO, but doesn’t tell me if her position encompasses all of the services or if there are other facets of the program. 

Anyway, the lede itself begs enough unanswered questions. It reads: “Elle Benage’s position within HALO allows her to combine her passion for art and her passion for kids.” So… what’s her position? What’s HALO? Also, “combine passion for art and passion for kids” is  not extremely compelling stuff. I feel like this story could have been made so much better if this lede contained more compelling information. I want to understand who this woman is before I even delve into the body of the story. I understand that it isn’t a long story, but that’s all the more reason to have a stronger lede. You have less time to convince me that this is a good story. Start off on the right foot, please. 


Thank you, True/False

Thursdays are usually pretty stressful for a Vox reporter. It’s the day that our first and third drafts of our stories are due. It’s the day I meet with my beat leader, Sara, and the day I almost have a breakdown from stress. So, when I got to go to a free True/False show to review the Showcase at the Blue Fugue, it couldn’t have been a better day.

The show started with Ruth Acuff’s harmonic harp melodies and I drifted off into a happy journalistic coma. While I was later swaying to the sounds of James Miska and the Jack Grelle and the Johnson family, the tension in my shoulders began to release.

In that moment, I realized that I haven’t been having enough fun. I’ve been reporting for a magazine that I’ve wanted to write for since I transferred to Mizzou, and all I think about is everything on my to-do list. I admit, it’s empowering to scratch  tasks off my list, but it probably shouldn’t be the only motivation in my life.

As I sat at my table on Thursday night and leaned my tired head and tense neck against the wall, I realized I need to relax. I need to remember why it is I have l always loved to write; nothing makes me happier than when my words matter to someone else. Firstly though, they need to matter to me. One thing I’ve learned this semester is that it’s very difficult to care when I’m not appreciating the moment in which I’m living. 

True/False has been the perfect reminder for me about my purpose as a Vox reporter. My mission is to bring Columbia to its readers. In order to do that, I need to let go of my worries (just a little bit) and join in the celebration. The costumes, music and general lighthearted mood of the weekend unhinged me from my personal troubles and loosened my grip on college life. 

So, thank you True/False  folk music concert for reminding me why I do what I do. This stressed-out journalist needed your help.