By Ren LaForme
At The Spectrum, I pretty much fall into the role of Goldilocks – and the articles that make it to my desk are porridge.
As one of the final editors to see the stories before they go to print, I have the opportunity to alter them just about any way that I want. And while I’ve been instructed to “leave the writer’s voice intact,” I am notorious for changing people’s ledes.
Some of them are far too boring. Some of them are much too ridiculous. Sometimes, we even get a lede that doesn’t make sense. We once received a story about the differences between tap water and bottled water. The lede was as follows: Water. It is the thing that is essential for all humans to live.
Obviously, we didn’t let that get to print.
My job as senior managing editor is to decide whether the porridge is too hot, too cold or just right – and sometimes it’s hard.
On occasion, the bears come home and get mad when they realize I messed with their porridge, but it’s generally in the best interest of the paper.
Between our weekly showdowns with the Student Association, squabbles with the Department of English over course credit and insane former editor in chiefs trying to regain control of the paper, it is amazing that we have enough time to even put a paper together.
So when it’s midnight and I’m weary and I’m trying to decide if a lede is good enough, I tend to scrap the whole thing and craft a new lead from nothing – rather than trying to salvage a gem out of junk.
After all, the lede just might be the most important part of the story. Is it right for me to change them?