By Maggie David Holley
Last week, a reader chided me for using the word, “lede” in an article on how to spot an awful press release. She thought it was either a misspelled version of “lead” or a term peculiar to the public relations industry. Either way, it was bad. Here I was telling people to double check for errors and jargon before submitting a press release, and I hadn’t followed my advice.
Another reader, however, mocked the first. She replied, “If you think that ‘lede’ is either spelled wrong or too-technical jargon (in an article on writing for writers), you have no business being in any writing profession.” Someone else told me I had “no need to apologize…[because I was] talking to people in [my] own industry who should know the term.”
Even though it hurts to be criticized, I agree with the reader who called me out. Journalists coined the term “lede” to refer to the first paragraph of an article or story, but all kinds of writers check out Ragan’s PR Daily, where the article appeared. I actually got an email from a communications manager that same day who thought “lede” was a typo, too. When I defined it for her, she replied, “I’m a communications professional who was not trained as a journalist, so it was lost on me! My apologies.”