Although The Lead Lab was more entertaining than the last NewsU we were required to do, I felt that the Cleaning your Copy was more informative. The Lead Lab did teach me some parts of a news release, but it was not enough to catch my attention and help me remember important facts.
-What did you learn?
I learned that writing a lead can be hard work. To write an effective lead you have to know, first and foremost, what the story is about. First start with the five W’s and a H (What happened? Who did it happen it to? Where did it happen? When did it happen? and How did it happen?), then with that knowledge, you need to logically zero in on the two basic focusing questions (What’s the news? and What’s this story about?). You must look for the tension in a lead because news media are widely criticized, often justifiably so, for their preoccupation with conflict. One way to inject tension is to introduce competing elements in the lead. The juxtaposition raises a question, an element of suspense, that is the key to drawing the reader in. Decided which story is the right one for your story it depends on your news organization, the news and the timing of publication. Some guidelines that can help make your decision are time, readers’ needs and exclusivity.
-What surprised you?
I was surprised during the activity called types of leads. I never realized how many angles you could start a story with. Essentially there are two types of leads: direct and delayed. One gets to the point immediately while the other may take a while, but each type responds to a reader’s central interest. Direct leads split into two sections: an analysis and a summary. Delayed leads are split into four sections: round-up, emblem, significant detail, and anecdotal.
-What do you want to know more about?
I felt that they gave great examples of leads from already published articles, which gave me a great overview of all the different approaches I could take when deciding where to begin. I would like to know more statistics about what type of leads people respond to more. Such as do they want the facts laid out in front of them or do they want a more interesting twist on it to keep their attention. These are all aspects to consider when writing a lead and it is also good to know who your target audience is that you are trying to reach from the article.