I am writing this essay for two reasons:
1. To help dispel (or should I say “dis-spell”) a preference for “lede” over “lead” to describe the beginning or introduction of a news story.
2. To offer a century of wisdom on the purpose of a good news lead and the best way to write one.
My interest in these topics was ignited recently when the Poynter website briefly expressed a preference for “lede,” a spelling I had avoided since my arrival in St. Pete in 1977. For me, the spelling has been “lead.” After all, a well-written first sentence leads the reader into the story. In addition, lede felt like, not jargon, but slang, from the same generation as —30— to represent the end of a story, and “hed” as short for headline.
I was told early on that lede avoided confusion with the molten lead that dominated print technology in decades past. (So did hed serve to avoid confusion with “head” when writing about the price of lettuce?)
My editor, Barbara Allen, sent me on a scavenger hunt of sorts, but not before sharing a link to a 2011 essay written by Howard Owens. He set out to answer the same question: Is it lede or lead? As a collector of old journalism books, he discovered that even in the era of hot type, the spelling lead was preferred by writers, editors and journalism teachers.
Sitting as I am near a library of about 12,000 journalism books, I
Read more here: https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2019/lead-vs-lede-roy-peter-clark-has-the-definitive-answer-at-last/