Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Fish or cut bait

Posted on | May 19, 2012 | No Comments

Years ago, Girish Mhatre or Steve Weitzner (one of those eminences grise in the e B:B journalism business) told story about the co-founder of CMP, Gerry Leeds. Leeds, years into the successful expansion of the company he founded with his wife, Lilo, would wander into his newsrooms and scan the stories being readied for his newspapers.

“This story would be better if you killed the lede and just started with the second graf,” he would invariably say. And he’d be right. Most of the stories being published in his papers weren’t the hard-news, inverted pyramid types of stories. They were news-features.

Flash forward to today, and you can discount perhaps the 25 percent of any blog post you read. (Much like this very post). Most of the time you’re reading online, you’re looking for answers and insight. Yet, most of our posts wrap a painfully fat amount of context and story-telling around one or two info-nuggets.

Give me the good stuff quickly so I can move on to the next thing.

I thought about this reading Danielle Kurtzleben’s piece in U.S. News and World Report.

Does the post better serve the reader by just cutting the lengthy financial context out or smashing it into a simple declarative sentence: Newspapers are on the ropes. How can they learn from the Game of Thrones?

Probably, yes. You’re drawn in not only by the compelling statement and odd question but by their connection.

Context is vital to story-telling, though. And we go back and forth between story telling and data delivery. Understanding when to craft which is an art.

Lou Hoffman of the Hoffman Agency has been hammering on the value of story telling lately. And right on to that: In a world of INFINITE information, story telling is more important than ever. This is important for his business and mine.

Today’s priority online is figuring out when to fish and when to cut bail, how to tell a story without watching your reader wriggle off the hook.

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