Lesson Plan #21 - How to write a lede
Note: We recommend that you print this text
and distribute it to your students.
THE LEAD (LEDE)
In a single paragraph, a lead must
summarize the basic facts of a story and convey to a reader what
you found out in your reporting. But it must be more than just
an opening to your story. The lead must also catch a reader's
or listener's attention and make them want to read the rest of
Journalists are taught a simple rule about
basic news leads, called the "5-W's." They are: Who?
What? Where? When? Why? A sentence or paragraph that gives a
reader the answer to all the five W's will automatically summarize
There are many other kinds of news leads,
but they all fall into two categories: "hard" leads
and "soft" leads. The choice depends on the nature
of the story and determines the form of the rest of the story.
A hard lead is suited for an urgent, breaking event, while a
soft lead is more indirect and suited to feature writing.
A hard lead:
If Canada and France don't reach an
agreement on fish quotas by Sept. 30 Ottawa will unilaterally
impose one, Fisheries Minister John Crosbie says.
-- St. John's Evening Telegram, Sept. 16, 1992.
A soft lead:
Bryan Adams spoke and the fans listened.
"Be good to Osoyoos,"
Adams told the crowd of 30,000 who gathered in the Okanagan town
Sunday for the only B.C. stop in his Waking Up the Nation tour.
"Osoyoos has been good to you tonight. So have a good
time and don't wreck the place." Then the clean cut kid
from North Vancouver gave the fans what they had come for.
-- Vancouver Sun, Sept. 8, 1992