“Explaining today’s newspapers” for The Union’s paid columnist George Boardman

The Union’s paid weekly columnist George Boardman never made it to a big-city newspaper, as we’ve reported previously. He wears it on his shoulder as a big chip, and it shows each week with his column in The Union, our community newspaper. Letter writers regularly point to errors in George’s columns, and he has to run corrections himself. One recent example is here.

For whatever reason, The Union continues to hang on to him as a columnist. As one local put it on Facebook this weekend: “Why does this man even get a column? He is an idiot. What are his credentials, if any?” — Sue Williams Clark

Though he claims to be a “newspaperman” George is unclear about some basic terms used by journalists, such as “lead,” “off lead,” and so on. He showed his ignorance this week when seeking to defend why The Union led the paper with an article of a protest of just 25 people (a political decision, not a journalistic one).

For George’s education here are some common terms:

Lead or “lede” in newspaper parlance: “The news story deemed most important by the newspaper,” as Slate explains. “In most papers, the lead appears on the front page at the top of the right-hand column.”

Off-lead or “off-lede”: The second most important news story of the day. The off-lead appears either in the top left corner, or directly below the lead on the right.

Hope this helps.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

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