• ROSELAND, NJ - Residents are reporting that
a long five and a half hour standoff with
police is now over.
• Wednesday night, at approximately 10 p.m.,
reports came into West Essex TAP of a
possible intruder in the area of Schweinberg
Road. Quickly after, reports came of the
sound of gun shots. Unconfirmed reports say
the suspect had been shot twice tonight,
possibly gunshot wounds to the right side.
It's believed, after the crisis past, he was
taken by ambulance to Morristown Memorial
The bolding is good. But the most valuable
real estate in a sentence, especially a lede
sentence, is the front. Putting ‘Residents are
reporting’ dilutes the power of the news.
Specifically here, and generally most places,
attribution is better at the end of the
‘Wednesday night,’ is a subordinate fragment
which sounds good but is hard on the reader
since it creates a non-linear sentence. More
of an issue is the self-reference that high.
Immediacy and exclusivity are important for
online, but the self –reference so high
changes the reader’s priority. Instead of the
emphasis being on the incident, it’s now on
you. If you’re going to use unconfirmed
reports, good that you call them that. But a
report without attribution – even a ‘police
said’ – is suspect. Also, ‘passed’ is a verb and
‘past’ is a noun.
• Unconfirmed reports to TAP from neighbors
say that this is closely tied to a domestic
situation at Unit 29 on Schweinberg
Road where the first 911 call did come from
reporting an intruder. A woman who lives at
that address has had a restraining order
against her boyfriend. The boyfriend
apparently violated that order and there is
reportedly a warrant out for his arrest.
Neighbors believe that this evening, he broke
into her house, shot at her and she ran out of
the home. She then yelled for her son who
called police from the basement and then
escaped the home. The latest report is that
the man has threatened to kill her dog, and
then himself. Neighbors believe he has
barricaded himself at this point in the
This needs attribution and less self-
reference. The important part of the
sentence is buried by the front part.
Paragraph breaks when the topic or locale
shifts help the reader.
This paragraph is a load of legally actionable
accusations, with no specific attribution. The
more damning the accusation, the more
specific it needs to be attributed to
someone. This is as much for legal CYA as it is
for the reader.
At 2 a.m., neighbors were reporting the police
are yelling "Anthony, come out we will not
At 3:10 a.m., an ambulance approached the
residence where the suspect is thought to be
hiding while at the same time police began
to remove the trashcan barricade. Vehicles
have been seen leaving the scene and police
can be seen walking along Schweinberg.
Police from Roseland requested mutual aid
after shots were fired and area towns
including East Hanover, Fairfield and West
Caldwell, responded to the location.
Unconfirmed reports say that the suspect
apparently was inside the house with a
hostage. The police then made contact with
the suspect on the phone and after
negotiations, the hostage was released.
Good detail. The narrative here is less
important than the content it holds, so a
bulleted chronology can work.
Tense shift is jarring. Could be ‘ambulance
approached the residence where the suspect
WAS thought…’ It’s OK to jump around in
stories , but the story has to make up its
mind if it’s an online update story or a after-
the-fact summary and tense appropriately.
This doesn’t fit the chronology of the
previous two sentences. It just feels dropped
in. In a more traditionally structured news
story, the mutual aid stuff would be down
towards the bottom since the different
agencies that responded are less relevant
than the rest of the stuff.
The hostage release is the big moment. Few
details make it easy for the reader to gloss
The New Jersey State Police TEAMS unit, similar
to a swat team, then arrived and swapped
the area police out to take their positions.
Area police have been armed with shot guns,
rifles and shields. The TEAMS unit arrived in
large, loud trucks according to neighbors,
possibly tahoes or suburbans.
What’s TEAMS stand for? Also, SWAT
is an acronym and needs to be
Awk. verb usage. Better “replaced
Good detail, but it needs a contrast in
this context (State police snipers with
long guns replaced local police who
had been on the scene with shotguns
Is the model really important (if it is,
capitalization is important)? A better
way might be use a color description
(arrived in black SUVs).
• Avoid self-references that high
• Facts need attribution; the more specific the
fact, the more required the attribution
• The story needs to be told in ways that make
intuitive sense to the reader: If it’s a
chronology, tell the story chronologically, with
time cues. If it’s going to be blended story –as
this was – give a summary of the event, then
go into the detailed chronology.