Jeff Jarvis should write for AP

The Associated Press is now offering members two different leads for some stories, and that has the blogosphere buzzing. According to a report in Editor and Publisher, the wire service sees it as giving members more options.

“The concept is simple: On major spot stories — especially when events happen early in the day — we will provide you with two versions to choose between,” the AP said in an advisory to members. “One will be the traditional ‘straight lead’ that leads with the main facts of what took place. The other will be the ‘optional,’ an alternative approach that attempts to draw in the reader through imagery, narrative devices, perspective or other creative means.”
The report offers examples on a story from Iraq:
Traditional
MOSUL, Iraq (AP) A suicide attacker set off a bomb that tore through a funeral tent jammed with Shiite mourners Thursday, splattering blood and body parts over rows of overturned white plastic chairs. The attack, which killed 47 and wounded more than 100, came as Shiite and Kurdish politicians in Baghdad said they overcame a major stumbling block to forming a new coalition government.

Optional
MOSUL, Iraq (AP) Yet again, almost as if scripted, a day of hope for a new, democratic Iraq turned into a day of tears as a bloody insurgent attack undercut a political step forward.

On Thursday, just as Shiite and Kurdish politicians in Baghdad were telling reporters that they overcame a major stumbling block to forming a new coalition government, a suicide attacker set off a bomb that tore through a funeral tent jammed with Shiite mourners in the northern city of Mosul.

Jeff Jarvis offers a wonderful reaction to this over at Buzzmachine. In it, he provides a third option for the lead, something he calls “Version C (for Conservative).”
MOSUL, Iraq (AP) Despite a horrendous terrorist attack that killed 47 and injured more than 100 innocent Iraqis in a funeral procession, the nation’s march to democracy continues as Shiite and Kurdish politicians in Baghdad said they overcame a major stumbling block to forming a new coalition government.
Point taken, Jeff. It’s an excellent discussion of how writers inject their bias into the lead of any story.

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