Dangerous Balancing Act

Monday, July 21, 2008
"Except that they sometimes ride the same elevators, the reporters and editors of the news report work in a different orbit from those who write opinion." -- Bill Keller

Here is a turn-of-phrase coined by a copy editor friend, that I liked so much, I decided it warrants its own post:

Death-defying Lede: A lede in which the reporter comes precariously close to falling off of the Chinese Wall and into the swamp of opinion.

I was going to link to a wikipedia article defining Chinese Wall, but interestingly enough, in the journalism section of the entry it only offers: "The term is also used in journalism to describe the separation between the editorial and advertising arms of a media firm," whereas I was introduced to the term as a way of indicating the separation between opinion and news, which is clearly how I was using it above.

Clearly the adjective "death-defying" could also sometimes be used to describe full articles or news columns as well.

(Interestingly, though the article linked above (and again right here) ran as a front page story about day care at Google, it is archived as a business column, which would have slightly different rules. I do not, however, remember the very long article being labeled as a column in the hard copy of the paper itself.)

Yes, that's an image stolen from Disney via a Web site with a ton of Lion King pictures. I also recognize that Mufasa is pushed Simba is forced to the cliff by Scar (I forgot that Simba, too, ends up hanging from a cliff), and that it's not a perfect analogy, but actually with Simba, who survives, it's a slightly better, or at least more hopeful analogy, implying that their is still hope of the reporter righting himself.

0 Responses to 'Dangerous Balancing Act'

Search This Blog

Contact Me

Written Pyramids is a blog written by a journalist living and working in Washington D.C.

I have left my real name off of the blog so as not to imply that the blog is somehow linked with the journalism I get paid to do. (Still, I never write about my beat on this blog, and rarely express opinions about the day's news regardless of its relationship to my beat).

I would love to hear from you. If you want to contact me directly rather than leaving a comment here, I can be reached at WrittenPyramids@gmail.com.

Blog Archive

Books pyramid image originally from the British website, Explore Writing.