Bad Ledes and Pet Peeves

Check out this lede from a Sun-Sentinel story today:

"Billed as a comedy-thriller, the Actors' Playhouse production of Thumbs provides a brilliantly-plotted mystery, a superbly witty comedy, but not a compelling thriller about an actress suspected of murder and a female sheriff in a life and death struggle."

Sorry, the thing doesn't read. Try to decipher it. There are more roadblocks in that sentence than one of those old Burt Reynolds police-chase flicks. And if you force yourself to get through it, you still have no idea what it means. Read it 10 times and you're even more confused than before.

I'm not linking the story because there's no sense in calling out the writer. Could happen to a lot of reporters on a bad day. But how in the hell did this get past an editor? Who's watching the store over there?

Or, god help us, might an editor have had a hand in creating that monstrosity?

This next nails-on-the-chalkboard moment reeks of an editor's hand all the way. I find that one of newspaperdom's worst sins is the overuse of brackets. Here's an example from today's Miami Herald:

As a surprise for her Dancing with the Stars partner, Edyta Sliwinska presented Jason Taylor with a video pep talk from former Dolphin Dan Marino.

Marino's tongue-in-cheek message: ''If you don't bring back the mirrorball [trophy, which goes to the champion], don't come home.''

That's a quote with two left feet. What a mangling. It would have been easy to briefly explain what a mirrorball is in the next sentence. Or set it up gracefully in the previous one.

Instead, they had to royally [mess] it up.


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