Here ducky, ducky, ducky. I'm going to kill you.

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From John W. Cox's personality/profile article:

"Three times a week, a truck putters 45 miles south from a farm in Sonoma County, headed for Berkeley’s North Stattuck neighborhood, filled with plump, corn-bred, nine-week-old ducks.”

I really like how the author paints a picture with his words.  He uses descriptive words like “putters” and “corn-bred,” giving you a nice little mental picture of these cute little duckies going on a big adventure…but then he continues to tell us that they are essentially on the first leg of their travel to death for they are part of an organic food business.  I don’t know if this sentence had the same effect on the rest of the class but I was horrified once I found out where these little guys were going.  Immediately I saw Alice Waters as a murderer, not a successful, nice person.  If you are trying to do a positive personality profile (I’m not quite sure if Cox didn’t like her or if it just comes off this way) leaving details about how the person you’re writing about leading baby animals to slaughter is generally a good thing to leave off, especially as your lead. 

The next thing I have to say is that I was not impressed with this sentence as a lead at all.  It was descriptive, yes, but after reading this first line I honestly wanted to put the article down.  It was a little too creative a touch without any accompanying facts to draw the reader in.  There was not one point during the reading of this article that I was like, “Wow, this is very well done.”  Compared to the last personality profile we had to read, this one looks terrible.

There was one part of the article I liked.  It was the part where Cox pointed out that Water’s restaurant had won the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants Lifetime Achievement award in 2007.”  Now THAT IS impressive.  Why is this not in the lead?  Why does this information appear five short paragraphs from the end of his article.  There are literally 22 paragraphs before this information is even mentioned!  After all, Dr. Jerz said that a lead should be, "One or two sentences at the beginning of a news story that encapsulate the news. Write it so that the reader would still understand the main point of the story even if he or she only read the lead."  This sentence had the opposite effect on me. 

What was your take on the article?

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2 Comments

Richelle Dodaro said:

I know what you're saying, Angela. That opening line grabbed my interest but I felt like it wasn't that great of a lead for an article on quality restaurant food. I felt bad for the little ducks and didn't want to think of them being killed after reading this descriptive, opening sentence.

Josie Rush said:

I thought the same thing. Perhaps describing the "little duckies" was a bad way for Cox to start out. If your first reaction is, "Aw, cute little duckies..." and a sentence later you're discovering that somewhere a mother duck is quacking out a lament for her soon-to-be-eaten ducklings, it doesn't create any fuzzy feelings towards the profile subject.

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