COMPOSING THE LEAD AND THE STORY STRUCTURE
What comes in mind when you hear of the word lead. In our everyday activities or work place or group studies, you always have someone who leads that group. When someone is leading you, the person is showing you where to go and becomes your leader. Let’s bring this idea in our journalistic context.
Lead is an opening paragraph. It is the most important part of a news story. The lead gives the reader an idea of the story to follow. There are so many sources of information such as newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and the internet. Audiences simply are not willing to read beyond the first paragraph of a story unless it grabs their interest. A good lead grabs the attention of the audience to read the news story. It gives the reader the most important information in a clear, concise and interesting manner.
A good print news story will contain the following components:
* It should have an inverted pyramid structure. The most important story at the top and least at the bottom.
* A good lead should answer questions on the five Ws and H.
* It should contain quotation and attribution.
* It should follow the AP Style and posses proper grammar punctuation.
* The reporter must know what to put in a lead based on news worthiness.
* A good lead should contain at least three of the five Ws and H. However, one mistake most writers do is trying to put all the Five Ws and H in a lead. The lead should be brief and simple. It should contain at least 20 words.
THE FIVE Ws AND H.
The five Ws and H are one of the key components of any news stories. They stand for Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.
The five Ws and H should be the questions that every news story must answer such as:
1 Who did what, or who said what?, or who was involved?.
2 What happened? or What was unique?
3 Where did it happen?
4 When did it happen?
5 Why did it happen?
6 How did it happen or How does it affect we?
To gain your readers attention, your story should be written in a way that your reader would sit back and follow the rest of the story.
LEADS THAT SUCCEED.
It must contain the most newsworthy information or facts. It should be accurate and objective.
It should be short and simple at least 20 words. It should not be lengthy or else you readers would not be interested to read.
It should be written in the active voice.
It should follow the grammatic rules and correct tenses.
It should not contain quotations.
It should be attention grabbing.
TYPES OF LEADS.
Single incidence lead.
The single incidence lead addresses one key issue. The journalist develops the story out of a particular issue.
For instance: The vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana suspended three students.
This is only talking about one issue. The main issue is that The VC has suspended the three students.
Multiple incidence lead.
Multiple lead like the name implies, more than one.
This lead addresses more than one issues.
For instance: Two people died at the Trauma junction when the accident occured and this has made the government fixed security cameras to arrest those who do not obey the traffic.
Summary means to reduce information to a suitable length. A simple sentence to answer the five Ws question. It is not a must that the lead should contain all the five Ws. In summary lead, it contains more of the five Ws, sometimes it tries to answer all.
A motorcycle hit a student crossing the road at Koforidua in the evening.
In this example you get to know that the story answers four of the Ws.
This is a lead whose follow up is different from what the lead is about. Journalists are advised not to write this type of lead. It makes readers not interested in your story anymore because you try to deceive them.
Three of the students have been disqualified from the vetting.
The people of Effutu are celebrating their festival and more students are involved in the celebration.
In this story, you noticed that the follow up is different from the lead.
This type of leads often update news story by adding more information to the previous ones. Think of you class prefect, telling you about the end of semester exams and later updating you about the rules governing it.
This type of lead addresses the outcome of an issue. It usually answers the question So What?
What does this news to do the reader.
When something is inverted, it means it has turn upside down. Inverted pyramid is mostly used by journalist for their news stories. It most commonly used structure for news stories. It present the most important information in a news stories first followed in descending order by less important information. The introduction is the most important information, the body provides the supporting details, context in the form of direct and indirect quotes and background information and the conclusion becomes the least important information.
The structure works well for two reasons.
First, the most important information which is presented at the beginning helps to grab the reader’s attention and interest so the reader is more likely to read the entire story.
Second, a story written in inverted pyramid structure means the least important information is at the very end of the structure. Therefore if the story needs to be cut, it will be cut from the bottom without any loss of important information.
Moreover, with most consumers reading their news online, this helps ensure that they will see your most important information even if they do not click through to read the full article. The inverted pyramid structure is based on the five Ws and H.
Thank you for reading this article.