A reader asks: “I know (I think) what the word “lede” means as used by you this morning referring to a Reuters piece, but I was interested in the derivation of the word. I can’t find it in any on-line dictionaries. Can you help?”
My understanding of the word is pretty simple. It means exactly what it sounds like, the opening line of an article. The reason many journalists spell it that way is that other, more accurate, spellings (i.e. lead) tend to be confusing when working out edits with editors. I’ve had some editors who hate this spelling, others who insist on it. That’s all I know.