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Leads and Nutgraphs. Construction. Lead – The hook that tells the reader what the story is about is called the lead. It is often a single sentence. In hard news stories, the direct or summary lead provides the who, what when where and why of the story.

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Leads and nutgraphs

Leads and Nutgraphs


Construction
Construction

  • Lead – The hook that tells the reader what the story is about is called the lead. It is often a single sentence.

  • In hard news stories, the direct or summary lead provides the who, what when where and why of the story.

  • Indirect or delayed leads are more creative entries into stories that provide some information.

  • Feature or narrative leads are longer introductions that tell a story.

  • Leads should not be any longer than 30 words.


Construction1
Construction

  • The nutgraph is a sentence or paragraph that states the focus – the main point of the story.

  • It should tell in a nutshell why it is newsworthy.

  • Stories using summary or direct leads have shorter nutgraphs, since they provide key information.

  • Delayed and feature leads require nutgraphs of about three sentences.


Examples
Examples

Direct

Indirect, with Nutgraph

  • Buoyed by three touchdown passes from quarterback Michael Vick the Philadelphia Eagles crushed the New York Giants in yesterday’s matchup.

Michael Vick is finally biting back.

Buoyed by three touchdown passes from its quarterback, the Philadelphia Eagles crushed the New York Giants in yesterday’s matchup.


Finding the lead
Finding the Lead

  • The lead captures the essential or unique elements of a story.

  • In most cases, the lead should be easy to find during the reporting process.

  • Tip: What will people be talking about on Facebook tomorrow? That is probably your lead.


Choosing a lead
Choosing a Lead

  • Decide whether or not a delayed or indirect lead is possible for your story.

  • If you use an indirect lead, you must have a strong nutgraph.

  • In many cases, a delayed or more indirect lead is inappropriate for the content of the story, notably if it is a complicated issue or a tragedy.

  • Tip: When in doubt, just go with a direct lead.


Choosing a lead1
Choosing a Lead

  • Bad:

    Another one bit the dust last night in Wilmington’s Riverside neighborhood.

    John Smith, 22, of 500 E. Washington St., died of multiple gunshot wounds early Wednesday morning.

  • Bad:

    The Lincoln University Board of Trusees made a very important decision Tuesday night.

    In a unanimous vote, the board decided to ban the use of alcohol from the university’s campus.


Writing the lead tips
Writing the Lead: Tips

  • What was the most important or unusual thing that happened?

  • Who was involved and who said it?

  • Is a direct or delayed lead best?

  • Is there a colorful word or dramatic phrase I can work into the lead?


Burying the lead
Burying the Lead

The most common mistake young reporters make is burying the lead.

That means the main idea is swimming somewhere in the body of the story instead of being placed in the lead.

  • Make sure to read over a story after you have completed it to make sure you have selected the best lead.


Assignment
Assignment

  • Write a lead and nutgraph on what you did this morning.

  • Speak in third person.

  • Example: John Smith ate eggs for breakfast this morning.

  • Submit to class email.


Homework
Homework

  • Write one lead and one nutgraph for each day of the weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday).

  • The lead and nutgraph should summarize what you did each day.

  • Submit the three leads and nutgraphs by Tuesday at 9 a.m. to class email.


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