BASIC NEWS LEADS. CHAPTER 7 “He was the quiet Beatle who left the loud legacy.” (CNN lead on death of Beatle George Harrison). The Lead’s Needs…. The first sentence or two, or the first paragraph or two, in a newspaper, magazine, or online news story is called the “lead” or “lede.”
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“He was the quiet Beatle who left
the loud legacy.”
(CNN lead on death of Beatle George Harrison)
What is the most important information? What is the story’s central point?
What was said or done about the topic? What happened or what action was taken?
What are the most recent developments? What happened today or yesterday?
Which facts are most likely to affect or interest readers?
Which facts are most unusual or out of the ordinary?To determine the lead, ask yourself:
Are specific—good leads contain interesting details and can help readers or viewers/listeners visualize the events they describe
Use strong, active verbs—a strong word or descriptive verb can transform a routine lead into a dramatic one.
Emphasize the magnitude of the story—stress the impact stories have on people
Stress the unusual—by definition, news involves deviations from the norm
Strive for simplicity—every lead should be clear, simple and to the point
Localize and update—leads should emphasize your communities’ involvement in stories (local angles and reactions to national, international stories)Elements of Good Leads
Not beginning with the news—you should stress the news of the story, not the attribution (example, p.156)
Don’t “bury” the lead—chronological order rarely works in a news story—the lead should stress the central point, what’s most newsworthy, noteworthy or unique
Avoid “agenda” leads—an opening paragraph that places too much emphasis on the time and place at which a story occurred is called an “agenda” lead.
Example: Yesterday the Cougar baseball team played a double-header against Clemson at Patriots Point.
Better: At Patriots Point yesterday the Cougar baseball team swept a double-header from Clemson.Common Errors with Leads
Lists- can be dull the story, not the attribution (example, p.156)
Platitudes-- avoid stating the obvious or stressing the routine in leads (p.158)
The negative- report what happened, not what failed to happen or what does not exist (p.158)
Exaggeration—if a story is weak, exaggeration is likely to make it weaker, not stronger
Misleading readers/viewers—every lead must be accurate and truthfulAlso Avoid…