“Lede”ing the Way to New Fuel Economy Standards; Do Bland Ledes Work?

Hi everyone!


Below is a link from an online environmental news source. The lede really gets to the heart of the article, that fuel economy standards are at a record high and carbon emissions are at a new low. However, as informative as it is, I was bored! This is a big environmental news, and I want to be excited or engaged by a lede, not simply told the facts.

Your task is to rewrite the lede! Do you feel that re-doing it could add some pizazz to the article, or does leaving it as it is fufill the goals of the article?




Hope this helps “lede” you to the winning comment for the week! 🙂


– Jessica Chovanec


6 Responses to ““Lede”ing the Way to New Fuel Economy Standards; Do Bland Ledes Work?”

  1. I read a quip somewhere this week that said that a journalist’s job is to write articles that organize facts in order of importance, so that you can stop reading anywhere in the middle of an article and still be confident that the information you already read was more important than the part you missed. This lede sure fulfilled that directive! I don’t feel at all compelled to keep reading, not because I’m not interested in the subject (I am) but because I’ve already gotten the point.

    I think the tension in this story lies with the cause of the shift, which are the USDOT and EPA fuel efficiency standards. If I were writing this story I’d probably throw that info into the lede: “Thanks to the implementation of ambitious new standards, automotive fuel economy has edged to a record high and carbon pollution levels have dropped their lowest rates since 1975”


  2. If I were not particularly interested in fuel economy, this article would also bore me, and I don’t think I would read the whole thing.

    Though it successfully provides key details about the EPA report, I don’t think the lede is engaging enough. One reason for this is that the lede reveals too much information. Though it’s great to explain the heart of the story early on, giving the whole message away in the first line made me feel like I already got the main point of the story. Though it is not always necessary, I think that withholding some information from your lede and introducing it in the nut graf can make for a more captivating entrance.

    I also think that the nut graf should focus on implications of the trends – information currently included in the fifth graf. This information seems to tell readers why they should care about the trends in fuel economy.

    If I were to alter the lede, though, to give the story more momentum, I would write the following:

    Discouraged by ever-increasing outputs of carbon dioxide emissions? A new report suggests some trends that may brighten your day.

    W.c. 194


  3. I do not think this story is bad. It is a journalists job to report the news; not just make it interesting. Sometimes a city council meeting is boring or nothing interesting is said during a speech. Yes, I admit that a journalist should try to make a story interesting but this is not always possible.

    In this case, this article is simply about a new EPA report that was released. It would be very difficult to try and ‘spice’ this article up.

    Kristen said that the article would bore her except that she was already interested in the topic. This is 100 percent true for this article but there is no way to make it more interesting for someone who doesn’t care about car emissions. The article must then focus on making the report simple and understandable by all readers.

    In that respect, the article succeeded.


  4. When amidst a time crunch, many people (myself included) skim headlines just to get the quick, Twitter-like updates they want. And often times, that’s enough to either allow someone to move on or engage them further. The headline for this article, although I’m not quite sure it qualifies as one, could easily be switched with the lede to accomplish that task better. If I saw “Fuel efficiency increase” and “Carbon emissions decrease” in bold, black letters I would be instantly hooked. I suppose that’s a good sign of a lede, it can (but doesn’t have to) summarize everything you ought to know in a manner that is eye-catching and creative. I believe the reason it doesn’t need those latter qualities here is, for environmental readers, that news alone is out of the ordinary. I feel constantly barraged with developments about our soaring emissions, so that simple sentence alone is enough to captivate me.

    -Alex Leader

  5. I seem to coincide with peers, as I agree that the lede merely “fulfills” its task of honing in on the subject of the article.

    While it is not the most enticing example of the written word, I think the bigger issue might be that the facts about fuel economy’s impacts on job creation could be framed better to both highlight this environmental news, and also engage the average working American. To me, the historical precedent set by the work of the Obama administration is largely what motivated this, and therefore it is really the selling point of the story.

    Overall, this article is still pretty interesting, especially to a group of green freaks like us! 🙂

    See you Wednesday,
    Rachelle Hadley

  6. Georgia Richardson Reply March 14, 2012 at 12:18 am

    I believe that the lede reveals too much with too little engagement. I would consider rewriting the lede in a way that is not so straightforward and in laymen’s terms… not so boring. If i were writing this article, I would most likely say this along these lines for the lede:
    After visiting the local gas station, I have never been more surprised by the total bill for gas for my “efficient” sudan. Over $100 spent to fill up my reasonably-sized car and it seems it won’t be getting less-pricey anytime soon.

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