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Transcript of News Leads
How to bring a reader
into the story the RIGHT way.
The Five W's and H
Write a news story
Single sentence that must include:
Begin with the conclusion first followed by other facts in descending order of importance.
Usually one element is more important than the others
Single person, group of people or organization
Prominent persons: Use name
Note: High rank does not equate to prominence
Average people or stories with multiple people:
Use impersonal who
What is a lead?
DELAYED LEADS entice the reader into the story by hinting at its contents. It often is used with feature stories.
Two Types of Leads
DIRECT LEADS tell the reader the most important aspect of the story at once.
It is usually used on breaking news events.
Editors like it because its structure allows for writing under deadline, cut from the bottom up
Readers like it because it gives them the facts they need to know in a hurry
Who was involved?
When did or will it happen?
Where did or will it happen?
Why did this happen?
First few words in the summary lead
A lead is the first sentence or the first few sentences of a story. It is the most critical element of a story.
What are the functions of a lead?
Could possibly include ...
How did this happen?
News Peg ...
The news peg is the time element
In other words, why are you running the story today instead of last week or next month?
The "what" is often the result of an action by"who"
Structure = Who did what?
Impersonal who could be
unit and job title;
however, rank is NOT a job title
Tells briefly what happened at a planned or unplanned event
Gives the location of the news event
often is sufficient for an event happening on post.
A lead may need more than one “where” for clarity
Sometimes the "where" is implied.
Specific or vague
Time and date you must
Avoid making positive statements ...
for future events, use:
Concerns the cause of an event - is frequently implied or unavailable
The “why” could be saved for later in the story.
Relates the circumstances or manner in which something is accomplished in the story.
Often provides an intriguing lead
Tell readers where the story is being written or from where it is being filed.
Elements with formatting:
, followed in most cases by the abbreviated
Name Of The State, County or Territory
where the city is located with
(MMMM DD, YYYY)
information is being released
HERBERT AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. (Jan. 1, 2020)
Internal vs. External
Connects Airmen to leaders
Remember target audiences
Connects local community to the base
Regardless of audience size, the most appealing aspect of the story will form the lead emphasis.
Lead emphasis will change for external audience:
External Hometown + impersonal who
II. Two Types
III. Inverted Pyramid
V. News Peg
VI. Five W's and H
VIII. Internal vs. External
Starts the flow of energy
Tells something about the subject
Shows the story’s significance
Answers the question, “So what?”
Shows the reader what kind of story it is
25-30 words in length
Contains ONE idea
Follows subject-verb-object sentence structure