Leads and Story Structure/Next Class

Last class we covered lots of ground. We mainly focused on summary leads and what goes into them. The 5Ws (Who, What, Where, When and Why) and How. And the occasional “So What?” We also talked about Delayed ID and attribution. These are all the choices you have to make when deciding what goes into a lead, and what can come later. Yes, you want specifics and details, but some need to be put further down in your story. Look at this Washington Post story below. The writer decided that the WHERE and WHEN elements were relatively week and didn’t need to be included in the lead, so he delayed them to the second sentence. The SO WHAT comes even later. Ultimately, you want to place the emphasis and focus on what “the news” is.

[WHO] Tesla [WHAT] is working on a battery that can power your home [WHY] and even help large-scale utilities  store energy more efficiently, [ATTRIBUTION] according to company chief executive Elon Musk.

[WHERE] On an investor call [WHEN] Wednesday, Musk said the designs for a home or business battery are already complete and will likely be unveiled to the public “in the next month or two.” Production could be as little as six months away, he added.

“It’s really great. I’m really excited about it,” said Musk.

[SO WHAT?] Tesla says its battery and charging technology could ultimately wind up saving you money on your electric bill. Although many of today’s homes draw energy directly from the electricity grid, the spread of cheap solar panels means it’s never been easier to generate some of your own energy. Storing renewables efficiently has been a big bottleneck for consumers and for utilities alike, but if Tesla’s stationary battery takes off, it could change the way electricity is priced and traded on a market scale. (For years, it’s been many people’s dream to sell excess energy back to the grid.)…..

For homework, we did summary lead exercises from the handout, like this one. Look at how we start a story like this, and where we place the focus and emphasis. Notice how the sentences and paragraphs are constructed, and where the punctuation goes. What you choose to put the in the lead involves news judgement. Focus on the most newsworthy aspect, and then the rest becomes supporting details.

Three to four children, most under age 1, die every day in the United States from child abuse or neglect, according to a new study from the Child Abuse Prevention Center.

Seventy-nine percent of the deaths were among children under age 5. The study also claimed that the number of child abuse or neglect cases increased by 200,000 from the previous year, ticking up to 2.7 million.

“The numbers are very disturbing and illustrate the gravity of this issue,” said Jane McPerry, the center’s director. “My hope is that this serves as a wake-up call for families and authorities.”



Due next week is Story #1, the accident story handout. Follow AP Style, use proper quote and attribution form. Write tight and focused. Post to Blackboard. Please email me with any questions. 

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