Writing the Hard News Lead
Writing the lead is often the hardest part of writing an article. Articles can be divided into two main types, hard news and soft news.
Each has different types of leads, or beginnings.
Hard News LeadsThese articles will cover breaking news and other significant news stories. You will use this type of article lead mostly in newspaper articles.
Magazines are not published frequently enough to be timely, a tenet of hard news.
Hard news leads start with the most important information at the beginning. Remember, you need to answer:
One reason for this is that people do not take the time to read the whole article. We live in a generation of sound-bites, and people expect their news to be quick and short.
Using the inverted pyramid style means that if they only read the first paragraph or two, they will know the most important points of the story.
Another reason for this format is that it allows editors to cut stories to fit the space they have available to print them. If the important information is at the bottom, an editor cannot cut the article without losing its value. Instead, by being top heavy, the last paragraph or two can be cut without a problem.
The most common hard news lead is the summary lead. It is exactly what it says - a summary of the key points in the story. It answers all six of the questions above in one or two sentences.
To put together the summary lead, first answer the six questions:
Now, you decide the order in which to share this information in the lead. Do you start with who? Or when? Keep in mind, most important information first.
Both of these sentences provide the same information. However, they start with the emphasis on different information. This is a basic hard news lead.
Now, practice writing your own leads. Get comfortable with this format and it will serve you well.
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