Annals of Journalism: The Best Lead Paragraph Ever (Hint: It Involves Miley Cyrus)
by Bob Schwartz
The Associated Press has issued the following lead paragraph for a story about Miley Cyrus’ most recent antics. It is the best lead paragraph ever.
AMSTERDAM (AP) — In an unabashed — and likely successful — bid for attention, singer Miley Cyrus smoked a joint on stage and twerked with a dwarf during the MTV Europe Music Awards.
Journalism students and logicians, please don’t focus on the joint smoking and the dwarf twerking, and for God’s sake, avert your eyes from the videos and photos (okay, you peeked; it’s irresistible, isn’t it?).
Instead, pay attention to this phrase: “unabashed — and likely successful — bid for attention.” What makes that phrase so delightful, the cherry on the Miley Cyrus-joint-dwarf news sundae, is that one of the largest news organizations in the world is covering the story, moving the success of her bid for attention from “likely” to certain and actual. As sure as the sun rises, Miley Cyrus will do something outrageous (the dwarf is an interesting touch, though it’s hard to say whether it’s trite or hip old school), and even the most respectable media outlets will cover it. So Associated Press, you just made your journalistic prediction come true. Oh the humanity! What would H.L. Mencken say?