Leads2010

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Lead writing

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Leads2010

  1. 1. Leads Revised September 2010
  2. 2. Summary lead or “lede”        Summarizes the news – Ws and the H Who What When Where Why How
  3. 3. The inverted pyramid        Write a terse lead Provide background Present news in order of descending importance Use quotations early and throughout Use transitions Do not editorialize Avoid “the end”
  4. 4. Tips for lead writers        Identify the Ws and H. Decide which element is the most important to the reader. Try to stick to one main idea. Write one sentence of no more 25 words. Write in past tense. Use subject-verb-object order. Sometimes the subject lends itself to a lead with flair.
  5. 5. Summary lead WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court preserved affirmative action in university admissions on Monday by only a one-vote margin but with a forceful endorsement of the role of racial diversity on campus in achieving a more equal society. (New York Times,35 words)
  6. 6. Revised Summary lead WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court preserved affirmative action in university admissions on Monday by only a one-vote margin but with an endorsement of the role of racial diversity on campus.
  7. 7. Multi-element or double-barreled leads Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh met with one of his lawyers Thursday about his chances of avoiding execution, even as prison officials moved full speed ahead to carry out the death sentence in five days.
  8. 8. Pitfalls     -- Trying to put the “when” or time element first and using the exact time, when more general time will do . Example: At 6:15 a.m. today police found a suspect in a kidnapping of a Provo girl. Better: Police arrested a suspect in the kidnapping of a Provo girl early Friday.
  9. 9. Pitfalls     -- Writing a lead that sounds like a newspaper headline or lead in for a news broadcast (usually in present tense and without articles). Example: Police arrest suspect in Provo kidnapping. Police arrested an Orem man Thursday in connection with the kidnapping of a Provo girl.
  10. 10. Pitfalls  Buried leads or “so what?” leads Police Chief John Jones discussed the city’s crime problem with interested townspeople at a meeting Monday night. So what? What is the problem? There were more serious crimes reported in Provo last year than during any 12 months in the city’s history, the city’s police chief said Monday night. (26 words)
  11. 11. Pitfalls      -- Stating the obvious. Don’t just say that something happened, but what was significant about what happened. Example: President Obama spoke to a large crowd Sunday and a choir performed during the annual program honoring the constitutional framers. Better: Americans should emulate values of courage and integrity, President Obama told hundreds gathered.
  12. 12. Pitfalls      -- Using the name of little-know person in a lead. Delay the identification of most people, unless they are well known because of position or notoriety . Example: BYU student Josh Jones faces charges in connection with a hit-and-run accident that caused a pileup on I-15 yesterday. Better: Police arrested a 21-year-old BYU student Tuesday in connection with a hit-and-run accident that caused a pileup on I-15.
  13. 13. Pitfalls     -- Using a question in the lead. -- Using a direct quotation in the lead -- Trying to use two sentences. Stick to one for this class. -- Using “you” in the lead.
  14. 14. Pitfalls         Too many words In a bold bid to pursue the Republican economic agenda and spur economic growth, President Bush plans to propose a sweeping package that would eliminate the taxes individuals pay on stock dividends, accelerate incometax-rate cuts approved two years ago and provide $400 rebate checks for middle-class parents. (47 words) Wall Street Journal President Bush will propose today to stimulate the economy by eliminating the tax on stock dividends and by cutting taxes this year for nearly 100 million taxpayers, at a cost of around $600 billion to the federal Treasury over 10 years. (41 words) Reuters President Bush yesterday said the economic plan he's unveiling today including family tax cuts and an end to taxing stock dividends - is geared to "the working citizen," and he rejected Democratic charges that it's aimed at the rich. (40 words) New York Post
  15. 15. Hints for success    Don’t worry about feature and “special” leads until you’ve mastered summary leads. Example of a feature lead: Kathy Porter, principal of Westmore Elementary in Orem, knows she must find a way to boost scores. And a mathematics program she's considering, hoping it will do the trick, has proven to be controversial.
  16. 16. Hints for success       Don’t go with the first lead – rewrite Avoid superfluous words Write clearly and concisely Use vivid verbs Use colorful words Use Subject-Verb-Object order -- S-V-O
  17. 17. Write a lead       Example; Who: Sven Wilson, a BYU assistant professor of political science, What: A new study has found that combat veterans' first marriages are 62 percent more likely to end in separation or divorce than other men's Where: Study released in Provo When: Thursday What else: Wilson hopes the fact will be considered by defense policy-makers in the future.
  18. 18. Lead  Combat veterans' first marriages are 62 percent more likely to end in separation or divorce than other men's marriages, a new study by a Brigham Young University professor shows . (30 words)

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