A few bits of follow up from my last post on naming bits of a news story:
On Twitter, Parker Higgens speculates that a “dek” has to be part of the article’s header, whereas a “subhed” can be the name of headings used throughout an article. So thanks Parker, now I am even more confused about deks and subheds.
Next, I realized that in my last post I never actually defined “lede” or “nut graf”. In the sample I gave, those happened to be the first and second paragraphs, but that was just to make the survey more simple. In general, I would define the “lede” as a catchy bit of text near the beginning of a story that invites reader curiosity for reading the rest of the story. A related phrase is burying the lede, which means to put a more interesting part of a story deeper in a less prominent position where it might be overlooked. The “nut graf,” on the other hand, is a paragraph that summarizes the story as a whole, so if readers just take away one thing from a story, it should be the “nut”.
At the opposite end, many stories end with a “kicker”. This is a final twist or turn of phrase that wraps up the story. The Onion—which always has pitch perfect parodies of news stories—usually ends with a good kicker. For example, today’s top story Liberals Say Sanders’s Acceptance Of Rogan Endorsement Sends Dangerous Message He Trying To Win Election ends,
Griffin added that it was even more disturbing that Sanders would attempt this during an election year.
which perfectly sends up both the haplessness of the Democratic Party and the ongoing Presidential impeachment.
The fact that “kicker” can mean either “punchy last part of a story” or “little label over top of a story” is a good reason to call the small text an “eyebrow” instead. In a chat message, Joe Fox pointed out that a “flag,” which got a respectable four votes, actually
refers to the nameplate of the publication that goes at the top of the printed page (often referred to incorrectly as the masthead)
and Joe Germuska noted that the text is known as a “shoulder” in India.
Finally, many people have strong feelings (very strong feelings) about using the non-standard spelling of “hed,” “lede,” and so on. Personally, I am not very concerned about whether the standard spellings are used or specialized ones, but I have a slight preference for specialized spellings because it’s more fun to be quirky. Still, I don’t want to leave the false impression that the non-standard spellings have a long tradition dating back to the days of the Linotype and so on. Howard Owens found that in
the dozens of old journalism books that I have examined — none of them — spell it “lede.” I can’t find the definitive first reference to “lede” but it doesn’t start appearing in journalism books until the 1980s.
In conclusion, if I had a kicker, it would go here or maybe at the top of the page in small text.