Presentation on theme: "Writing summary leads. Summary lead definition Time element Verb tense Attribution definition Prominence in the lead Attribution punctuation."— Presentation transcript:
Writing summary leads
Summary lead definition Time element Verb tense Attribution definition Prominence in the lead Attribution punctuation Inverted pyramid The 5 Ws Writing basic news leads Leads that succeed
Facts usually fall into
The WHO Readers love stories that focus on people. WHO keeps it real. Who’s involved? Who’s affected? Who’s going to benefit? Who’s getting screwed? The WHAT WHAT gives news its substance. Stories become dry and dull if they focus too much on WHAT. Need WHO.
The WHEN Timeliness essential to every story. When events happened or will happen. How long they lasted or will last. The WHERE The closer the event, the more relevant it is for readers. Many stories require supplements. Map Diagram Photo
The WHY Finding explanations difficult. The WHY is what makes news meaningful. The HOW Often requires detailed explanation. Sometimes omitted to save space. Readers love “how-to” stories.
Newswriting format summarizes most important facts at story’s start This is the lead, which summarizes the story’s most important facts This paragraph adds more details or background This paragraph adds even more details This adds more details More details
So should you use this format for every story? No. It works best for hard news. Summarize first. ▪ Explain later. Resolve everything in the beginning. Allows editors to trim stories from bottom. The typical news story uses the inverted pyramid
If a story takes too long to make sense… Readers flee like rats from a sinking ship. A summary lead is a diagram for the story to come. Why writing a good lead actually matters to readers
Collect all your facts. ▪ Lead should summarize. ▪ The more you know, the easier it is to summarize. How to write an effective news lead Sum it up. Boil it down. List who, what, when, where, why of story.
Prioritize the five W’s. ▪ Lead contains the most important facts. ▪ Which of the key facts deserves to start the first sentence? How to write an effective news lead Rethink. Revise. Rewrite. Is it clear? Is it active? Is it wordy? Is it compelling?
Writing leads often a process of trial and error. ▪ Try different approaches. How to write an effective news lead Create different leads using the… Who. What. When. Where. Why.
Mission: Invite the reader in and give the gist of the story. Works best with hard news/breaking news. Answers key questions such as who, what, where, when, why and how. 35 word limit One sentence. One sentence. One sentence!! A good lead can serve as a diagram for a hard news story Clear, concise writing is the key to success
A man hiding in the attic of a St. Petersburg home opened fire on officers trying to arrest him Monday morning, sparking a firefight that left two police officers dead and a U.S. Marshal wounded. (35 words)
One-sentence No more than 35 words. No less than 15. Usually past tense verbs Concise, clear Prominence dictates if a person’s name is used in the lead. Answers as many questions as possible: Who, what, where, why, when, how…
Heath Slocum sank a 21-foot putt for par on the final hole for a dramatic win at The Barclays in Jersey City, N.J. on Sunday. (25)
Hundreds of people hunkered down in emergency shelters and thousands stuck it out in darkened homes after a winter storm that left 54 dead in nine states Wednesday. (27 words)
Think about which questions are answered in this lead. Shattered mausoleum walls were discovered Tuesday morning at historic St. Michael's Cemetery in downtown Pensacola, and slabs were overturned on above-ground tombs in what could have been an attempt to unearth the dead. (33)
Shattered mausoleum walls were discovered Tuesday morning at historic St. Michael's Cemetery in downtown Pensacola, and slabs were overturned on above-ground tombs in what could have been an attempt to unearth the dead. (33) What: shattered walls Where: St. Michael’s When: Tuesday morning Why: attempt to unearth the dead…(creepy)
Figuring out key questions to be answered.. What happened? When? Where? You must determine the focus A fast-moving string of thunderstorms toppled trees, flooded streets and prompted a tornado warning Tuesday in northwest Florida. (Just 18 words answers what, where and when questions)
This lead focuses on who, what, when and where Steve Irwin, the hugely popular Australian television personality and conservationist known as the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed Monday by a stingray while filming off the Great Barrier Reef. (26)
35 words Past tense verb Answers as many questions as possible Which questions are answered here? Prosecutors asked a judge Tuesday to impose the maximum sentence on a couple found guilty of planting a human fingertip in a bowl of Wendy's chili in a scheme to extort money from the restaurant chain. (35)
This lead identifies Naomi because she has prominence (and a bad temper) Naomi Campbell apologized yesterday for hitting her maid in the head with a cell phone, but said it was an accident. (21)
An early morning joy ride on a train engine in Nelsonville, Ohio- with the whistle blowing, ended back in juvenile detention for two boys who walked away from an unlocked detention home, authorities said. (The boys don’t have prominence so their full names aren’t used in the lead)
It’s one-sentence, Clarice. Unless a person has prominence…they are not identified in the lead. FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A German cannibal who killed a man who wanted to be eaten told a court Monday that he had only been carrying out his victim's wishes and had not expressly sought to kill him. (34 words)
A woman charged as an accessory in the Billings double homicide was arrested Thursday on a bigamy charge and released from jail again. (23)
Attribution is nearly always placed at the end of the lead set off by a comma. Definition of Attribution: Who said it? Who is the source? Attribution is underlined in the following lead. A 2½-year-old Gulf Breeze girl nearly drowned Sunday at Johnson Beach, a Gulf Islands National Seashore park ranger said. (19)
After the verb works well…usually the best place, but sometimes after the object or end of the sentence is best. Time element NEVER begins a summary lead. Celebrity Paris Hilton was arrested in Hollywood early on Thursday on suspicion of drunken driving, Los Angeles police said.(18)
After the verb works best … most of the time. Sometimes you have to put it at the end of a sentence too. Or after the object Or where it reads best But never at the beginning of a lead Wrong: Tuesday a man was found dead at the beach. Correct: A man was found dead on Tuesday at the beach.
CINCINNATI (AP) - Democratic Sen. John Kerry, at a site where President Bush made his case that Iraq was a threat to the United States, argued on Wednesday that the president left a trail of broken promises on the path to war and has squandered money that could be put to better use for health care, education and jobs. (56 awful, dreadful words.)
(AP) - Democratic Sen. John Kerry, at a site where President Bush made his case that Iraq was a threat to the United States, argued on Wednesday that the president left a trail of broken promises on the path to war and has squandered money that could be put to better use for health care, education and jobs. (56 awful, dreadful words.) Democratic Sen. John Kerry said Wednesday that President George Bush left a trail of broken promises on the path to war and squandered billions of dollars. (26) Many of the details in the other lead can be used in the next two paragraphs of the news story…no need putting them in the lead.
Run-on sentences derail summary leads all the time when two sentences make up one lead. They are called fused sentences or comma splices…here’s a fused sentence. (underlined) Sixteen cars of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. freight train carrying hazardous chemicals jumped the tracks Wednesday morning 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles no one was injured.
Fix with a coordinating conjunction (but) Sixteen cars of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. freight train carrying hazardous chemicals jumped the tracks Wednesday morning 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles but no one was injured. Lesson: Don’t write run-on sentences they are hard to read. (LOL)
Don’t use semi-colons to join two complete clauses in your summary lead. Use connecting conjunctions instead: And, but… Wrong: A freight train derailed Wednesday morning; a broken rail is suspected. Better: A freight train derailed Wednesday morning and a broken rail is suspected.