Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Patterson story lets humanity infuse the news

Rick Lee pulled off a kind of double-lede to his story about the death of York County Judge Chuck Patterson that I think serves the story well.

In the first two grafs, he delivers the news that Patterson collapsed and later died, though it's through the action of the flags being lowered, not an official quote, which comes later.

In the next four grafs, Rick writes about Patterson's last moments at the courthouse: His afternoon greeting with district attorney Tom Kearney, and Kearney describing what happened. It's poignant, reveals a level of respect for Patterson that is reflected elsewhere in news coverage, and it brings the story back to the point where you hear the official word about the death from the coroner.

It's a major news story that, through its construction and its key anecdote, allows the human emotion to come through.

UPDATE: Rick says he was thinking about leading with the Kearney anecdote, but thought the story really needed to be treated as a hard news story, and starting with the anecdote wouldn't do that. Hence the first two grafs. That's good thinking and decision-making.