Tag Archives: The Washington Post

The Importance of Word Choice in Ledes

D.C. police shut down a block of Connecticut Avenue north of Dupont Circle for nearly three hours on Friday after authorities said a bank robber dropped a suspicious package while making his getaway.

Whenever I come across an article about a bank robbery, it always captures my attention. Bank robberies make me think of Hollywood versions of robberies like those in the “Ocean’s Eleven” series. In these portrayals of robberies, the robbers are always handsome and the banks are seemingly impossible to break into, complete with laser beams and complex safes. This is why any lede with the words “bank robber” is interesting. While this lede in the Washington Post is attention grabbing, it could have been more successful. The words “bank robber,” “suspicious package,” and “getaway” are all good quality word choices that make the reader want to finish the article. However, the geography and time explained in the first sentence should have been saved for a later part of the article or the lede, in my opinion. There were a few word choices later in the article that should have been used to make the Lede have more of a punch. For example:

Officer Araz Alali said the holdup occurred minutes before noon at the TD Bank in the 1700 block of Connecticut Avenue NW.

If the word “holdup” had been used, I think the lede would have been more successful. “Holdup” has connotations to guns and cowboys that Americans can not resist. If I were to rewrite this lede, it would say:

A bank robber in the DC area dropped a suspicious package while making his getaway. DC Police were forced to shut down a block of Connecticut Avenue north of Dupont Circle for nearly three hours on Friday to investigate the holdup.

My version of the lede puts the more moving news first and uses the words “forced” and “investigate” which are much more appealing than the basic way that the original lede gave the information.

The article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/crime-scene/post/bank-robber-drops-package-streets-closed-north-of-dupont-circle/2012/10/05/c315943e-0f0c-11e2-a310-2363842b7057_blog.html

An Observed Liberal Bias of The Washington Post

The front page of the Washington Post’s website on September 27, 2012 shows a bias towards a more liberal demographic. Some of the headlines such as: “Medicare issue boosts Obama in 3 swing states,” “At Romney’s would-be church in D.C., ‘47 percent’ fill pews,” and “Republicans’ real problem” show this bias.  Instead of choosing more stories that are more favorable to the Republican candidate, the Post chose stories that do not put Governor Romney in the best light. Some keywords and phrases that give this bias away in these articles about Governor Romney are: “sweeping changes,” “undercutting,” “blunts,” “controversial,” and “unfavorable.” “Sweeping changes” is not something that the elderly, or even those who are middle aged ever want to hear about Medicare.  “Undercutting,” or cutting away at the base, is a negative word placed where a more positive word could have been used.  This is the same for “blunts” and “controversial.”  All three of these words create a mental picture for the reader that is not a positive one.  The keywords and phrases used to describe Governor Romney contrast with those about President Obama: “favorable,” “advantage,” “boosts,” and “support.”  These word choices create a positive mental image for readers.  “Boosts” and “advantage” also hint at words that have to do with a positive economy, which every American no matter what party is in favor of.  In the picture included in the “Campaign Finance Explorer” on the front page of the Post, President Obama’s numbers are shown and Governor Romney’s are cut off.  This is a small point yet it is more favoritism towards the President and the Liberal demographic. It is a shame that there are not more articles about President Obama’s campaign struggles as well as more articles describing Governor Romney’s positive attributes and successes.  This would allow the public who reads the Washington Post to be better educated about both candidates for the upcoming election.

Check it out: http://www.washingtonpost.com/