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Ledes, inverted pyramids and attribution

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  1. 1. The Role of the Student Press It’s a training ground for you, a laboratory for cutting-edge journalism. - Reflect your community: what are college students talking about? Music, sex, stress, the job market… - Focus on news that is local and useful for your campus readers. - Exploit the advantage: how is the administration spending money? Who gets a free car?- Make hearing your readers a priority. Invite them to tell you. - Not just student life but concerns of university employees, faculty, administrators and staff - The student paper can be a unifying force, an outlet of frustrations, excitements and passions.
  2. 2. Watchdogs The student newspaper is the only institution able to investigate and report matters of corruption andscandal, questionable research, misuse of state funds, employing sexual predators. - Using social media, you can mobilize a community in a matter of minutes.
  3. 3. Challenges -Lack of respect: it can be tough to get readers and sources to take you seriously.Administrators and faculty can fail to give students due diligence. -Conflicts of interest of covering the community in which you live: healthviolations at the dining hall, tenure battle of your favorite English professor.Sometimes, you can recuse yourself from a story -Inexperience: mistakes are on display for the whole campus -Interference: Administrators often challenge student newspapers that stir up trouble or embarrass the campus
  4. 4. Get Help - Society of Professional Journalists - Student Press Law Center - Associated Collegiate Press - College Media Advisers - Professional Photographers of America- National Press Photographers Association
  5. 5. News Writing Keep it simple: The inverted pyramid -LEDE: Who/what/where/when/why/how - Supporting details for lede - Lead quote - Background/reaction - Least important detailsA technique that presents the information in descending order of importance – from most important summary of news followed by less important details
  6. 6. News Writing -The 5W and 1 H are generally answered in the first two or three paragraphs. 1. A lede hooks the reader and captures the essence of the story 2. A second paragraph backs up the lede and often explains the impact of the story, answers the questions not addressed in the lede. 3. A lead quote that augments the lede, often the strongest quote of the story and adds a human dimension. 4. A nut graph – paragraph or two that provides context and tells the readers why they should careThe rest of the story includes reaction and background, more quotes and explanation in descending order of importance. Online readers often just scan the headline and the first couple of paragraphs of thestory so, even if they don’t read it all the way, they get the fist of it in inverted pyramid format.
  7. 7. Ledes - Are crucial. The goal of the lede is to: 1. Report the essential details of the story 2. Lure the reader into the story 3. Make the reader want to read more Ledesare divided into two categories: hard and soft Hard: summary lede or direct lede delivers the news immediatelyFeature or soft: more of a storytelling approach, may start with an anecdoteor a scene that draws a picture for the reader and may be several paragraphslong. IMPORTANT: a nut graph must follow the feature lede because readers don’t always know from the start where the story is heading. The nutgraph, or focus graph, explains the point of the story and why readers should care. It should come early, usually in the third to fifth paragraph.
  8. 8. Tips for Writing Ledes -Hard news ledes are generally short: one or two sentences at most -Let the facts speak for the themselves-Ledes generally only contain the most relevant details and should be free of clutter – unimportant addresses, ages, times -Leave names out of a news lede unless the person is familiar to your readers -Generally put attribution at the end -Avoid cliches like movies, song titles -Avoid passive “to be” verbs -Avoid “When asked” (All quotes are new paragraphs)
  9. 9. Elements to include -Numbers: stats, dimensions, percentages or population figures -History or background: how long has this been happening? What happened in the past? -Financial figures: how much will this cost? What are the financial implications of this policy or program?-Reaction: how are different types of people reacting to this news? Include a variety of perspectives: students, faculty, staff, opponents and proponents, winners and losers -Chronology: lay out a sequence of events. What happened first? Next? What is expected to happen? -Description: what do the places, people, things look like? Use senses to help you describe what you’re reporting -Impact: What effect will this news have on people? TIP: Try to get as many points of view as you can and then present a fair and balanced account of what you’ve found. -A clear-cut conclusion is NOT ALWAYS relevant
  10. 10. Attribution No footnotes! You must use attribution.ALL QUOTATIONS, OPINIONS and STATEMENTS of fact should be attributed. Factual attribution: The crash occurred at 5:40 p.m., according to…Direct quotes: “This is an important time,” said Mary Smith, president of… Indirect quotes/paraphrase: Assistant Coach Jim Jones said the quarterback is the best player since Tim Tebow. Quotes Good quotes are vivid, colorful or personal, expresses strong opinion, conveys drama THE RULE: If the source says it better than you can say it, use the quote. If you can say it better, more clearly, precisely or powerfully, then paraphrase. The lead quote is the strongest quote you have and often sums up the theme or main points of the story.
  11. 11. Quotes-Punctuate properly: Start the quote with open quotation marks and close with close quotation marks. Commas and periods ALWAYS go inside the quote marks. A question mark goes within the quote marks if it’s part of the quoted material. Otherwise, it goes outside. -Attribute: identify the speaker, not just by name but by title or role the person plays in the story. Put attribution high in the quote, usually after the first sentence. -Make a transition between speakers each time you quote a new source. Start a new paragraph by introducing the speaker first and then running their quote. -Only use quotes you’ve heard. DO NOT lift quotes.-Clean up quotes – a little! Use ellipsis … to represent deleted material andput any addition words in brackets [ ]. However, if a quote needs too much correcting, don’t use it all. -Use said. No one notices the repetition and everything else is editorializing: stated, remarked, declared, etc. -Keep quotes tight, short and snappy.-Save a catchy quote for the ending for a kicker, an ending that finishes the story with a climax, surprise or punch line.