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News Basics. Inverted Pyramid. Dianne Smith, CJE Alief Hastings HS Houston, TX. In daily newspapers, most timely and featured news stories are written in the traditional form--the inverted pyramid form (the order of decreasing importance). Most important facts. Next most important.

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News Basics

Inverted Pyramid

Dianne Smith, CJE

Alief Hastings HS

Houston, TX

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In daily newspapers, most timely and featured news stories are written in the traditional form--the inverted pyramid form (the order of decreasing importance).
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Most important facts

Next most important

Next most important

Next

Inverted Pyramid

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The first paragraph of a news story contains the most important information.

This is called the Summary Lead, because it summarizes the most important facts gathered about the story.

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Reasons for the Inverted Pyramid:
  • Makes reading easier and faster
  • Enables the hurried reader to get all the important facts in a very short period of time
  • Satisfies curiosity in a logical way
  • Makes page makeup easier
  • Makes the work of the copydesk easier
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Characteristics of a good Summary Lead
  • Briefest possible summary of a story, usually no more than 25 words.
  • Includes only those Ws and H that are important. These usually include the What, Who and sometimes When, and sometimes the So What.
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What are the Ws and H
  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why
  • How
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Characteristics of a good Summary Lead
  • Usually only one paragraph but may be more. It is easier to read two short paragraphs than one long one.
  • Usually starts with the feature of the story, the most important fact.
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How to find the feature
  • Use your knowledge of news values.
  • Know who your readers are.
  • Ask yourself: “What would be the first question a reader would ask about this event?”
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Characteristics of a good Summary Lead
  • Quickly summarizes in the first few words the most important fact of the story.
  • The What is usually the most used feature of a lead, followed closely by the Who. (The Who should be used only when the name itself is clearly the most important fact.)
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Characteristics of a good Summary Lead
  • Begins with specific, interest arousing words.
  • Poor:
  • For several years it has been the custom…
  • Good:
  • A two-day vacation is in store for...
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Characteristics of a good Summary Lead
  • Usually avoids beginning with such words or phrases as a, an, at a meeting, yesterday, last night, last week, recently, days of the week, according to, in the opinion of; it is, was, will be; there is, was, will be.
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Characteristics of a good Summary Lead
  • It is broken into two sentences or two paragraphs when too much important information would make an excessively long sentence. Shorter sentences and paragraphs are easier for a reader to grasp quickly.
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Whoa! Too much info!

Poor:

Lincoln’s basketball season came to an end March 2 when the Maroons were defeated by Bridgeport, 45-44, in an overtime in finals of the Regional Tournament at Rockford.

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MUCH better!

Thanks!

Better:

An overtime in the semifinals ended Lincoln’s basketball season Wednesday in the Regional Tournament at Rockford.

The Maroons were edged by Bridgeport, 45-44.

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The lead tells the most important part of the story, and the body of the story gives the other facts in decreasing order of importance.
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Most important facts

Next most important

Next most important

Next

Summary lead

Body of the story

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Through alternating direct quotes (which contain opinions, feelings or information that cannot be measured by some standard) and transitional statements (which contain facts), the reporter tells the story.
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What is a transition?

Transitions are words or phrases which keep the story flowing smoothly and let the reader know you are either talking about the same thing as before or you have changed subjects.

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What is a transition?
  • Word or phrases such as meanwhile; also; nevertheless; accordingly; at the same time
  • Repetition of a word or phrase from a previous paragraph
  • Use of a synonym for a key word from a previous paragraph
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Summary Lead

Direct Quote

Alternating paragraphs of quoted opinions, feelings or thoughts and factual transitions

Fact

Direct Quote

Fact

Direct Quote

Fact

Direct Quote

The last paragraph should be a direct quote.

Fact

DQ

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Yikes! I’d better read further!

The Summary Lead:

Students who are chronically tardy to class may find themselves suspended if a policy being considered by the Lewiston School Board and faculty is passed.

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Quote #1:

“Being on time is a virtue,” Principal Jan Kingston said. “Students today, however, don’t seem to think it is important.”

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Transition #1:

The school board discussed the policy Feb. 8 and will bring it up again in March. LHS faculty discussed the proposed policy Wednesday.

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Quote #2:

“It is about time this district did something about the tardy problem,” Bart Simpson, social studies teacher, said. “It has gotten so bad that more students are out in the hall than in class.”

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Transition #2:

The proposed policy states that students will be considered tardy if they enter the room after the bell has rung. The tardy will be unexcused unless an excuse signed by an assistant principal or counselor is presented to the teacher.

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Quote #3:

“Too many students are still wandering around in the halls or using the restrooms when the tardy bell rings,” Bob Johnson, sophomore Assistant Principal said. “Teachers have asked that these students receive some sort of penalty.”

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Transition #4:

That penalty would come in the form of a 30-minute detention to be handled by the teachers, according to the new policy.

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Quote #5:

“We would also be rewarding those students who regularly get to class on time and who set a good example,” Johnson said.

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Transition #5:

Ten percent “punctuality points” would be averaged into a grade at the end of each quarter if a student has fewer than three unexcused tardies. If a student has three or more unexcused tardies, the punctuality points would not be given.

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Quote #6:

“There would be some tougher penalties for those who don’t seem to understand that we mean business with this new policy,” Johnson said.

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Transition #6:

By the fourth unexcused tardy, a student would be referred to the principal’s office and the parent or guardian would be notified. One-day suspensions would result if the student continues to be tardy.

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Quote #7:

“The proposed policy provides the incentive to students to be in class on time,” Kingston said.

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Transition #7:

Administrators hope that the new policy, if adopted, will eliminate the majority of unexcused tardies, which have been numbering in the hundreds each day.

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Final Quote

“The policy change is a step in the right direction,” Johnson said. “It’s a positive program to deal with a negative problem.”

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Summary Lead

Direct Quote

Fact

Direct Quote

Fact

Direct Quote

Fact

Direct Quote

Fact

DQ

The lead told readers a new tardy policy was being considered by the school board and that students who did not comply might be suspended.

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Summary Lead

Direct Quote

Fact

Direct Quote

Fact

Direct Quote

Fact

Direct Quote

Fact

DQ

It summarized the most important facts:

Students might be suspended if they are tardy all the time if the new policy goes into effect.

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Summary Lead

Direct Quote

Fact

Direct Quote

Fact

Direct Quote

Fact

Direct Quote

Fact

DQ

The body gave further details about the proposed policy, using facts about tardies and opinions from various sources to tell the story.

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