Writing the lede, putting the story together

Fun Fact: Lede is spelled l-e-d-e  so as not to be confused with the word signifying what type was made from: lead.

Reading a newspaper has an optical element.  When reporting on hard news, the lede should never be more than 20 words. If you need more words, write two sentences. Basic sentences. You should be able to comfortably read the lede out loud.

Now in these 20 words you should fit the 5 W’s. They should appear in order of “newsiness,” or importance. The date should typically be at the end. A date is not news.  (Well, the “when” kind of date. But I doubt any other type of date would be considered hard news either.)

Once you have your “newsy” W’s in the first paragraph, you stack a nut graph right under there. This graph should contain the remaining W’s that didn’t fit in the first 20 word paragraph. And following this you place a telling quote. Provide evidence the reporter was actually there.

Adding quotes humanizes the story, Steve Ames said. “You want to breathe life into your story.”

And after this three paragraph formula, which is still intended to uniquely entice readers, you can go in any direction. I see an octopus. Which tentacle will the reporter choose?

But after this visual description, Steve Ames and Nils Rosdahl returned to the basics of journalism. They discussed how to properly attribute information. How to place quotation marks around quotes. They advised against writing an article with only one source and conducting an interview via e-mail. While this information is important for any student journalist, I expected this session to delve deeper than the basic mechanics of formatting an article.

The speakers were humorous and bounced jokes off of each other, keeping the mood light. While a few laughs echoed their comical bits, the session as a whole offered little more than I had already heard in Janna Anderson’s class.



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