JOURNALISM LEADS How To Write Amazing Leads Their Purpose A “lead” or “lede” grabs the reader’s attention. It is the most important part of an article. If it is not good, risk losing reader. NEWS LEADS Always the “what” of the article, but can include the other 4 W’s and the H: Who Where When Why How The “What” Lead The “What” of the article. -Example: “Troop levels in Iraq would remain nearly the same through 2008 as they have been through most of the war, senior officials said.” The “Who” Lead A person, place, or thing. Helps if the “who” is well-known. Example: “Senator John McCain’s factfinding trip offered an opportunity to signal his support of Israel to Jewish and evangelical Christian voters back home.” The “Where” Lead Use on rare occasions only when place is most significant. Example: “South Africa is trying to balance the liberty of patients with tuberculosis against the need to protect society.” The “When” Lead Use rarely, only when circumstances make it interesting. Example: “When football coaches gather to talk about the team these days, their cocktail of choice may be Maalox. They worry as they debate how to fire up a team that hasn’t one a game in three years.” The “Why” Lead Using the motive or cause for a lead. Example: “In an effort to teach Shakespeare to sophomores, English teacher Gina Hatley and science teacher Phil Barnes reenacted the love scene between Romeo and Juliet.” The “How” Lead Starts with the method by which something is accomplished. Example: “By flunking every course, missing 62 days of classes, and assaulting two teachers, Junior Sam Hunt gravely endangered his eligibility for high school basketball.” FEATURE STORY LEADS What is a Feature Lead? More “poetic.” A natural extension of the story. Doesn’t have to be the “what,” but has to entice reader. Don’t follow as many rules as news stories. Relevant, fits mood, and grabs attention More types than news leads. Feature Leads Include: 1. Allusion (Literary and Historical) 2. Contrast 3. Pun 4. Description (Sight, Person, & Event) 5. Capsule (Punch Lead) 6. One Word 7. Miscellaneous Freak Leads 8. Parody Lead 9. Direct Address 10. Staccato 11. Anecdotal Lead 12. Sequence (Narrative) 13. Then and Now 14. Question 15. Quote Allusion (Literary) • Relates person/event to character/event • in literature. Example: – “To have been ordered into battle to attack a group of windmills with horse and lance would have seemed to Joe Robinson no more strange an assignment than the one given to him Thursday by Miss Vera Newton . . .” Allusion to Don Quixote Allusion (Historical) Relates person/event to character/event in history. Example: “Washington’s trip across the Delaware was child’s play compared with Dave Jason’s span of the Big Lick River.” Contrast Lead Compares extremes Example: “His wealth is estimated at $600 million. He controls corporations operating in more than 20 nations. Yet he carries his lunch to work in a brown paper bag and wears the latest fashions form Sears and Roebuck’s bargain basement.” Pun Lead Uses a play on words to capture reader. Example: “Western High’s trash collectors have been down in the dumps lately.” Description Lead (Sight) Detailed description of what is seen. Example: “The road to nsukka in eastern Nigeria is rutted and crumpled, the aging asphalt torn like ragged strips of tar paper.” Description Lead (Person) Detailed description of a person, usually the main character of the story. Example: “The imam begins his trek before dawn, his long robe billowing like a ghost through empty streets.” Description Lead (Event) Detailed description of an event. Example: “The air inside the darkened gymnasium is heavy with the heat of an uncommonly prolonged North Carolina summer.” Capsule (Punch) Lead Blunt, explosive statement to summarize article. Example: “The Beatles are back!” One Word Lead Blunt, explosive word to summarize article. Example: “Awesome. That’s the best term to describe the Rattler girls’ basketball team, which notched its 15th consecutive win Friday night.” Miscellaneous Freak Leads Begin with uncommon or odd statement. Example: “‘For sale: one elephant.’ The City Park Commission is thinking about inserting that ad in the newspaper.” Parody Lead Copies well-known proverb, quotation, or phrase. Example: “Whisky, whisky everywhere, but ‘nary a drop to drink. Such was the case at the City Police Station yesterday when officers poured 100 gallons of bootleg moonshine into the sewer.” Direct Address Lead Speaks directly to reader on appealing subject. Example: “Do not expect any pity from the weatherman today. He forecasts a continuation of the butter Arctic cold wave that has gripped the city for a week.” Staccato Lead Jerky, exciting phrases used if facts justify it. Example: “Midnight on the bridge…a scream…a shot…a splash…a second shot…a third shot.” Anecdotal Lead Uses event to represent universal experience. Example: “It was 1965 and the Dallas Cowboys were making good use out of an end-around play to Frank Clarke, averaging 17 yards every time a young coach named Tom Landry pulled it out of his expanding bag of tricks.” Sequence (Narrative) Lead Puts reader in midst of action. Example: “On a frozen morning in hilly rural Wisconsin, the dead deer lay stacked in a pile, like so much garbage. Big and brawny, these whitetail bucks and does should be prizes. But the hunters who shot them are afraid to take them home.” Then and Now Lead Shows progress over time. Example: “The Rio Grande once flowed through there, a wide and robust river surging between steep banks as it followed a southward course hugging the state’s curvy profile.” Question Lead Use when story has direct relevance to reader. “You think you have it bad? Consider Ron Mullens. Once vice president of a major real estate corporation, today his is penniless.” Quote Lead Usually avoid them. Quote should capture theme of story. Example: “‘People usually have two completely different opinions of what my life must have been like growing up,” said actress Joely Fisher, 28, a child of the short, unhappy union between Connie Stevens, the sex kitten of 1950’s TV, and Eddie Fisher, the singer and former matinee idol. GENERAL TIPS 1. Immediately grab reader’s attention. 2. Give reader hard facts so they will continue reading. 3. Each paragraph built on previous one. 4. Don’t write two leads, or be repetitive. 5. Don’t write a “warm-up paragraph.” Cut to the chase. Do: Be specific & concrete (especially with descriptions). Convey energy & action. Don’t: Use too much detail. Use abstract/general language. Be vague.