Today’s Worst News Ledes: 7/17/09


journalists News reporters like to catch readers’ attention with a few zingy lines at the start of an article. Sometimes, these so-called “ledes” go horribly wrong. In Today’s Worst News Ledes, we highlight some of the biggest offenders:

3. “From Starpulse, “Celebrities We’d Like to See in a Sex Tape:”

As a celebrity, the release of a sex tape is essentially a roll of the dice. You can either win big or lose your house on the gamble. A popular sex tape can turn B and C listers into A listers just like Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. A great sex tape can also turn a little bit of fame into a lot of fame (see Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian).

However, if the sex tape is bad or if the celebrity in the sex tape comes across as odd and/or creepy (ahem, Dustin Diamond), they can make everyone wish that they had never heard of that celebrity and never enjoyed any of their prior work. It certainly makes everyone want to claw their eyes out in an attempt to pretend that they never saw a random fallen star in a compromising position.

Does calling out the lede to a celebrity sex listicle constitute kicking a dead horse when it’s down and out in a barrel of fish? Probably. But the breezy, vapid explanation of sex tape strategy — not to mention the bottom-of-the-barrel-scraping premise to the whole piece — begs inclusion.

…though we’ll admit that we clicked through to see who came in first place. It was Emma Watson. Moral indignation something something.

2. AFP, “Swine flu sweeping world at ‘unprecedented speed’: WHO“:

Swine flu has swept the globe at “unprecedented speed,” the World Health Organisation said Friday, as a study warned the pandemic could tip the world into deflation and delay the economic recovery.

WSJ, “Swine Flu Speading with ‘Unprecedented Speed,’ Says WHO”:

The World Health Organization says it’s going to stop counting cases of the new H1N1 flu, according to a note posted on its website.

The virus is spreading with “unprecedented speed”, wrote the WHO. “At this point, further spread of the pandemic, within affected countries and to new countries, is considered inevitable.”

Food Consumer (?), “WHO: Spread of swine flu inevitable“:

As the swine flu virus races with “unprecedented speed” throughout the world, the World Health Organization announced they will discontinue the global tables showing the numbers of swine flu cases and instead urge countries to closely monitor unusual events.

In a world of aggregated news, maybe not everybody should write up the same press release.

1., “U.S. intel sources: Jakarta attacks ‘in your face'”

Suicide bombers behind the deadly Java hotel blasts orchestrated a sophisticated “in your face” attack, U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News on Friday.

This reads like an Onion piece gone horribly wrong, with “who’s your daddy” counteroffensives, “booyakasha” blitzes, and “you aren’t a real ref… go back to Foot Locker” surgical strikes sure to appear in the paragraphs that follow. But it isn’t; it’s talking about a real, horrific terrorist attack that killed eight people and wounded fifty. The “in your face” thing isn’t put into context, and the officials aren’t identified. Grabby hed, poor form.

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