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.

Recent entries:
“A friend of wine is a friend of mine” (4/25)
“The first thing on my bucket list is to fill the bucket with wine” (4/24)
“I’m a wine enthusiast. The more wine I drink, the more enthusiastic I become” (4/24)
“Homemade with love. In other words, I licked the spoon and kept using it” (4/24)
“Uncork and unwind” (wine saying) (4/24)
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Entry from January 21, 2011
“If it bleeds, it leads”

"If it bleeds, it leads” means that tabloid newspapers and radio/television news lead their news reports with sensationalist stories, such as violence. The saying “if it bleeds, it leads” has been cited in print since at least 1982.

“If it burns, it earns” is a similar saying. “If it succeeds, it leads” (highlighting positive news) is a newer alternative to “if it bleeds, it leads.”


Urban Dictionary
if it bleeds it leads
basically means that the media loves violence. television, radio, and film will for the most part have much higher ratings if it’s about a bunch of people getting murdered rather than something nice, like somebody saving a cat from a tree. ultimately, it’s a statement about america’s fascination with violence.
Johnny: you watch the news today? it was awesome, 500 people got their heads chopped off!
Tommy: hey, if it bleeds it leads.

by joejizzle May 7, 2008

Google Books
19 July 1982, Broadcasting, pg. 63, col. 1:
Asked whether WNEV-TV would continue its predecessor’s policy, described as “if it bleeds, it leads,” Applegate said such tactics are those of des-...

Google Books
Marriage and the Family;
Medicine, psychology, religion: new directions, new integrations

By John T Chirban
Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press
1983
Pg. ?:
The near assassination of a president, the near assassination of a Pope, rampant violence, the gruesome material in our nightly local news, where the credo of some of the local stations is, “If it bleeds, it leads,” where uncertainties…

Google Books
The Mind Race:
Understanding and using psychic abilities

By Russell Targ and Keith Harary
New York, NY: Villard Books
1984
Pg. 146:
In all fairness, though, we are convinced that most journalists sincerely try to give undistorted information about what is happening in the world, and are as offended by blatant sensationalism as we are—although when I (KH) recently said as much to a friend who is a well-known broadcast journalist, he laughed and replied, “If it bleeds, it leads.”

Google Books
February 1984, Texas Monthly, pg. 105, col. 3:
“If it bleeds, it leads,” is Channel 5’s unwritten policy, according to a disgruntled competitor.

OCLC WorldCat record
If it bleeds, it leads
Author: John T Adkins; Stephan Bognar; Tim Ballou
Publisher: New York : Cinema Guild, 1986, made 1985.
Edition/Format:  VHS video : VHS tape Visual material : English
Summary: This documentary examines local television “spot” news, a term stations give to coverage of fires, accidents, shootings and other local events involving death or violence. Reporters from 22 Alive News, in Dayton, Ohio, explain why prominent coverage is given to these stories, and refer to an award-winning news item about a death by drowning as an example. The program analyzes the effects of ratings on news reportage and raises questions about the ethical and professional considerations of broadcast journalists, including the individual’s right of privacy versus the public’s right to know.

Google Books
9 October 1989, New York magazine, “The trouble with local tv news” by Eric Pooley, pg. 37, col. 2:
The thoughtful report is buried because sensational stories must launch the broadcast: If it bleeds, it leads.

OCLC WorldCat record
If it bleeds, it leads : an exploratory study of violence in local television news
Author: Adam Carter Walser
Publisher: 1991.
Dissertation: Honors essay: School of Journalism, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1991.
Edition/Format:  Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript Archival Material : English

OCLC WorldCat record
If it bleeds, it leads : an anatomy of television news
Author: Matthew Robert Kerbel
Publisher: Boulder (CO) : Westview, 2001.
Edition/Format:  Book : English : 1st pbk. ed

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMedia/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • Friday, January 21, 2011 • Permalink