Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Worst Lede Of The Day...

goes to Robin Pogrebin for her three-paragraph epic atop this morning's report on the Smithsonian Institution's first-ever public board meeting. Couldn't slog through it this morning? Give it another try:

WASHINGTON — Fielding questions about its diminished endowment fund, the possibility of charging admission fees and the fate of its fabled yet shuttered Arts and Industries Building, the Smithsonian Institution held the first public board meeting in its 162-year history on Monday as part of its new commitment to openness and accountability. Sitting on the stage of a 565-seat auditorium at the institution’s National Museum of Natural History, members of the governing body, or Board of Regents — including members of Congress — took questions from the audience present and online.

The two-hour meeting was a window on public concerns about the Smithsonian’s shaky financial state and potentially endangered programs, rather than merely a forum for combative accusations after two tumultuous years in which the institution has been battered by mismanagement scandals. Museumgoers and Smithsonian staff members had the opportunity to ask whatever they wanted about the organization’s operations and direction.

Although billed as an open board meeting, the session seemed more like a chance for the regents to hear from the public than for the public to observe the regents at work. Questions ranged from broad issues like the thrust of the Smithsonian’s new strategic planning initiative, intended to draft a course of action for the institution’s financial future and its programs, to whether a tram might be built at the National Zoo.

Give up again? Okay, a brief translation: Pogrebin's lede laboriously explains that the Smithsonian held its first-ever open board meeting yesterday, and answered questions from the audience.

And what were the answers to those questions? Here's the first one Pogrebin plucked from her notes for inclusion in the piece:

“We believe the Smithsonian is at a turning point,” [Smithsonian secretary G. Wayne Clough] said in his opening remarks. “The world is rapidly changing in so many ways.”

Hard to believe Pogrebin didn't save that quote for the kicker.

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