A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 12, 2011
“Bury the lede” ("Bury the lead")

"Bury(ing) the lead/lede” in a newspaper article means that the important part of the article is several paragraphs down—where many newspaper readers might not catch it. A poor reporter might “bury the lead,” but this also might be done purposefully by a reporter or a news organization that seeks to cover up the facts (perhaps to support an ideology or bias).

The term “bury the lead” has been cited in print since at least 1941 and 1950. The term “bury the lede” has been cited in print since the 1990s and has become increasingly popular. The spelling “lede” is perhaps preferable because “bury the lead” can appear at first glance as “bury the dead.”


Wiktionary: bury the lede
Alternative forms
bury the lead
(non-U.S. and some U.S.)
Verb
to bury the lede

1.(idiomatic, US, journalism) To begin a story with details of secondary importance to the reader while postponing more essential points or facts.

Wiktionary: bury the lead
Alternative forms
bury the lede
(U.S.)
Verb
bury the lead

1.(idiomatic) (news writing style) To begin a story with details of secondary importance to the reader while postponing more essential points or facts

Wikipedia: Lead paragraph
A lead paragraph in literature refers to the opening paragraph of an article, essay, news story or book chapter. Often called just “the lead”, it usually occurs together with the headline or title, it precedes the main body of the article, and it gives the reader the main idea of the story.

In the news journalism industry, particularly in the USA, the particular news-style of lead used is sometimes referred to as a lede. This spelling is no longer labelled as jargon by major US dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster and American Heritage.

In journalism, the lead paragraph should not be confused with the standfirst (UK), rider or kicker (US). These terms refer to an introductory or summary line or brief paragraph, located immediately above or below the headline, and typographically distinct from the body of the article.

Google Books
Newspaperman, a book about the business
By Morton Sontheimer
New York, NY:McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.
1941
Pg. 41:
And on those days, you’ll avoid him and not give him any arguments, even though he wants you to bury the lead of the biggest story of the year in the tail end of the yarn.

27 January 1950, Iowa Quest (Iowa City, IA), “Editors, Faculty Meet Daily To Discuss Iowan Problems,” pg. 5, col. 5: 
Here is a time when even the city editor might be put on the spot when someone asks, “Why the heck did you let that reporter bury the lead way down in the bottom of that refugee story?”

Google Books
A Corner of Chicago
Author: Robert Hardy Andrews
Boston, MA: Little, Brown
1963
Pg. 35:
Silently, they handed me short takes tagged MORE 2 KUM, blandly burying the lead, if there was one, where I couldn’t dig it out in time for a rewrite.

Google Books
Editor & Publisher
Volume 97
1964
Pg. 40:
Craig Stolze, of the University of South Dakota, got into a lot of specifics as he admonished the annual meeting of COSIDA (College Sports Information Directors Association) to stop “falling back on a lot of numbers” in stories and burying the lead in the fifth paragraph.

Google Books
Newsgathering at the Pentagon
By Douglas Luther Strole
Dissertation: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Wisconsin--Madison
1971
Pg. 285:
“Releases are O.K. as far as they go, but they usually bury the lead in the last paragraph.”

Google Books
Adviser’s Guide to Painless Yearbooking
By Norma Ruth Wilson
Topeka, KS: Josten’s/American Yearbook Company
1974
Pg. 38:
Burying the lead, putting the most interesting or important aspect far down in the copy, is another common failing in yearbook copy.

Google Books
Newswriting from Lead to “30” with Revisions
By William Metz
Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice-Hall
1979
Pg. 61:
Don’t bury the lead. This is similar to backing into the lead, except that the major element has been buried several paragraphs down, ...

OCLC WorldCat record
Don’t bury the lead : Australian news gathering and reporting
Author: Katrina Mandy Oakham
Publisher: Geelong, Vic. : Deakin University Press, 1997.

Google Groups: alt.support-mult-sclerosis
Newsgroups: alt.support.mult-sclerosis
From: (LisalisaA)
Date: 1999/05/19
Subject: Re: An interesting trip…

leave it to you to bury the lede 1/3 into the story...glad to hear your vacation went well…
and that THE SURGEY WAS A SUCCESS…

Google Groups: alt.obituaries
Newsgroups: alt.obituaries
From: Brad Ferguson
Date: 2000/08/14
Subject: Re: Jonathan Burton, 19, crazed airline passenger

This is called “burying the lede,” and it’s something you might expect from an untalented novice.  People getting TV bucks ought to be better than that.  I’m tempted to start a CNN Deathwatch thread.

American Politics Journal
“Burying the Lede”
How American journalists censor themselves in the Corporate Era

by Tamara Baker
Mar. 3, 2003—SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA (APJP)—Molly Ivins mentioned recently that, according to a recent nation-by-nation study of the the freedom and accuracy of the world’s media, the US press comes in at—guess where?

Not first, not second, not even in the top ten…

... but seventeenth place. Seventeenth!

OCLC WorldCat record
Bury the lead
Author: David Rosenfelt
Publisher: New York City : Mysterious Press, ©2004.
Edition/Format:  Book : Fiction : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary: Asked to help safeguard the innocence of a reporter who has been selected as the mouthpiece for a serial killer, defense attorney Andy Carpenter finds his job getting more difficult when the reporter is arrested for the murders

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMedia/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • (0) Comments • Monday, September 12, 2011 • Permalink