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The Lead b Reporting and Writing b Journalism and Media Studies Centre b The University of Hong Kong b Kevin Voigt.

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Presentation on theme: "The Lead b Reporting and Writing b Journalism and Media Studies Centre b The University of Hong Kong b Kevin Voigt."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Lead b Reporting and Writing b Journalism and Media Studies Centre b The University of Hong Kong b Kevin Voigt

2 The Lead b Direct (hard news) leads usually summarize only the most important parts of a story. The details are left for later. b Sometimes, direct or hard-news leads may hint at important or intriguing contents to come in the story.

3 The Lead b The good hard-news lead meets two requirements: b 1) It captures the essence of the event. b 2) It invites the reader into the story. b Think of leads as “bait” that determines whether readers stay with the story.

4 The Lead b Leads are worth your time; reporters will try several different drafts until they get the one that seems perfect. b They’ll be thinking of it as they report. b Plato in The Republic: “The beginning is the most important part of the work.”

5 Reporting: The 5 Ws and H b b Who? b b What? b b When? b b Where? b b How? b b Why?

6 The Lead b Good reporting helps produce good leads. Consider this lead: b A late-morning fire in the upper floors of an 18-story housing estate in Pokfulam killed three people yesterday. b It is perfectly okay, and quite common.

7 The Lead b But another reporter asked a fire official to describe what the fire was like, and the official used the word “blowtorch.” b A fire roared like a “blowtorch” through the upper floors of a Pokfulam housing estate yesterday, killing three people. b Stronger, visual, same number of words.

8 Direct Lead b The direct lead is the workhorse of journalism. To decide what is the most important part of the story, ask two questions: b 1) What was the most unique or the most important or unusual thing that happened? b 2) Who was involved: Who did it or said it?

9 The Lead b After answering those, ask one more: b What words will help me write the strongest, most dramatic lead that my material permits? b A good lead gives you a roadmap to the rest of your story.

10 The Lead The Lead b Typically, but not always, the direct lead contains four essentials: b It says something specific. b It says when the event or action happened. b It gives the source (without necessarily identifying it in full). b It gives the place of the action (as concisely as possible).

11 The Lead b Other points to remember: b Attribution can wait, sometimes. b Avoid long subsidiary clauses or titles. b Banish jargon and legalese. b Use a direct structure: S-V-O. Subject, verb and object. (Wong [subject] hit [verb] the man [object].) b Time element usually goes after verb.

12 The Lead - Summing Up b Decide the most important news. b Use strong, dramatic language -- specific nouns, strong and/or colorful verbs. b Go to the heart of the event; give time, source, place, but be concise. b Be accurate and truthful.

13 The Lead - Length b The Associated Press tells its reporters to start cutting if their leads run beyond 20 to 25 words. To find places to cut, begin with: b Unnecessary attribution. b Compound sentences joined by but and and. b Exact dates and times unless essential. b Long titles.

14 The Lead -- Length (2) b Some leads, if the story is big and the writer good, can be long: b The stock market plunged out of control Monday in a selling panic that rivaled the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, pushing the Hang Seng index average down more than 500 points, draining more than $400 billion from the value of stocks and sending shock waves around the world.

15 Good Direct Lead b Four men convicted of murdering a German family of four in a frenzied knife attack were executed in China yesterday despite pleas for clemency from the victims’ relatives. b The what was different. Concrete, dramatic, specific language. Time. S-V-O. structure.

16 Good Direct Lead b A LaSalle College physics teacher and a lab technician tipped off students about questions to appear in an A-level exam this year, a court heard yesterday. b The who was important. So was attribution. S-V-O. structure.

17 Good Direct Lead b Jewelry tycoon Tse Sui-luen’s rags-to- riches story entered its darkest chapter yesterday when a High Court judge declared the self-made company chairman bankrupt. b Who was important. Place was important. Imagery (a bit of a cliché, but sometimes it can work). Time element. S-V-O. structure.

18 Reworking Leads b The sexual revolution has bypassed Hong Kong, according to a survey showing many men are still looking for passive, good- looking women and women want a man with a big bank balance. b Good approach, but what about this:

19 Reworking Leads b Men want passive beauties for mates while women want guys with deep pockets, a new survey says.

20 Reworking Leads b Apprentice jockey Philip Cheng Cheung- tat died at the Prince of Wales Hospital last night, 72 hours after suffering massive injuries in a race fall at Sha Tin racecourse. b Does the job, but what about this:

21 Reworking Leads b After clinging to life for three days, an apprentice jockey whose horse fell and rolled over him during a race at Sha Tin died last night. b Visual; introductory phrase okay in this instance; trims details not needed in the lead.

22 Reworking Leads b The head of the hospital authority yesterday backed the body that hears complaints from patients after it came under fire from doctors planning to boycott hearings. b Contains jargon – backed the body; time element before verb.

23 Reworking Leads b The Hospital Authority chief voiced support yesterday for the agency that hears patient complaints after doctors accused it of playing “God” and said they will boycott its upcoming hearings. b Eliminates jargon; adds specific “God” charge; puts time element after verb.

24 Reworking Leads b Director of Home Affairs Shelley Lee Lai-kuen has blamed pressure from the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation for violent scenes yesterday morning after police seized control of an industrial building in Tsuen Wan. b Long; unclear; heavy use of official titles and names slows the pace.

25 Reworking Leads b The Home Affairs director blamed Kowloon-Canton railway officials for provoking property owners to violence yesterday when police seized a building slated for demolition in Tsuen Wan. b Clarity -- property owners, demolition. Lean at outset. And 27 words versus 33.

26 Reworking Leads b There was a rush to buy pre-sales flats at two developments yesterday despite recent drops in the stock market and rising oil prices. b “There was” is almost always avoidable.

27 Reworking Leads b The pre-sales action for flats at two developments was feverish yesterday despite the slumping stock market and rising oil prices. b Stronger, quicker.

28 Reworking leads b There should be more frequent checks on civil service housing benefits to prevent the possibility of abuse, a legislator-elect recommended yesterday. b “There should” also can almost always be avoided.

29 Reworking Leads b More frequent auditing of civil service housing benefits yesterday will prevent abuse, a legislator-elect said yesterday. b Simple, direct, concise.

30 Same Story, Different Leads b Here’s how it was in one newspaper: b The deputy head of Inland Revenue was arrested and appeared in court with her husband yesterday over allegations she swindled the Government out of more than $330,000 in housing allowances. b Tight, terse and telegraphic.

31 Same Story, Different Leads b Here’s how in another: b Deputy Commissioner of Inland Revenue Agnes Sin Law Yuk-lin and her husband appeared in the Eastern Magistracy yesterday to face charges that they deceived the government into paying them more than $335,000 in housing allowances in the 1980s. b Heavy at the outset; 8 words longer.

32 A Lead Contest b Which one is better? b The Airport Authority’s acting chief executive was axed yesterday to make way for new blood after he failed to win an internal struggle to retain his position.

33 A Lead Contest b The Airport Authority has appointed a businessman with no airport management experience as its next chief executive officer. He will replace Bill Lam Chung- lun, who was seconded from the Government by Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan Fang On-Sang in January 1998.

34 A Lead Contest b No contest.: b The Airport Authority’s acting chief executive was axed yesterday to make way for new blood after he failed to win an internal struggle to retain his position.

35 Summing up a good direct lead: b A lead that gives the most important point. b A lead that is concrete, specific, concise, active and visual. b A lead that is accurate, honest and readable. b A lead that takes you into the story.

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