Follow My Lead (or Lede)

August 7, 2013

Use your three seconds wisely.

That’s about as much time as you have to capture a reader’s attention, so don’t waste it with meaningless fluff, clichés or meandering prose.  Make every word count.

The lead paragraph (or lede, as the old-school journalists would call it) of whatever you’re writing needs to convince readers immediately that it is worth their time to press on and continue reading.  A boring beginning will result in a quick end.

Rolling Stone’s Dilemma: Who’s Next?

August 12, 2013

“We got all the friends that money can buy
So we never have to be alone
And we keep gettin' richer but we can't get our picture
On the cover of the Rollin' Stone.”

                                 Shel Silverstein

It was never about taste.

To survive, Rolling Stone needs to sell magazines.  And by featuring pretty boy terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover, Rolling Stone sold magazines.  In fact, news stand sales were double what they usually are.

Trying to boost sales seems like such a capitalist thing – counter-countercultural – but Rolling Stone lost its countercultural cred many years ago.

True, running a flattering photo of a terrorist on the cover was in poor taste.  But this is a publication that has run Boy George on its cover.  It’s not about taste.