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Reporting & Editing/News Leads

Good lead is more than beginning.



  1. Summarises the contexts of news articles.
  2. Creates interest to the readers.
  3. Facilitates writing headlines for the copy editor.
  4. Make overall readability of news paper more effective (because point of each story can be known from lead)
  5. Answers right away the questions that the readers would naturally ask.

The lead may contain all 5’W and 1H.

Types of lead:

Summary lead: A summary lead is the most common and traditional lead in journalism. It is meant to give a quick summary in a few words as possible and is usually one sentence. It contains most of the 5Ws (who, what, when, where, why) and the H(how).Most prevalent lead in news papers for straight, uncomplicated news.

Question lead:

Many editors dislike question lead on the basis that people read news papers to get answers, and not to be asked questions. But if the questions is provocative, it may be used as a lead.

Raises questions, rather than answering the headline.

It gives a dramatic effects.

Example : Who is the most beautiful women in the world? It will be be decided today at Los Angeles.

Quotation lead:

A quotation that is meaningful, interesting, challenging, fascinating, hypnotic, or curious may be a solid type of lead for a news article.

Example: “Close the court” – Chief justice spoke in a irritated voice.

Flash by

It is like a flash news in televisions.

In a complex stories many elements to be presented in the lead.

Example: Mumbai flood.

More thunder showers are expected tomorrow at Mumbai, where already 500 lives have been lost, 1000’s of buildings collapsed, all transport services stalled for the past 2 days.

Direct address lead:

This lead directly speaks to the reader.

It addresses the reader directly as “YOU”.

It enhances the interest of the reader as it directly talks to them.

Example: “If you think someone is following you” – inform 100 says Police.

Astonisher lead:

Also called a punch or cartridge lead, the astonisher sums up in a starling, often contradictory approach, the essence of the story.

Astonishing facts.

Example: Before you completed reading the story, 12 babies would have been infected with dengue, 10 with malaria.

Direct lead:

The direct lead focuses on the theme of the event in the first paragraph.

Example: Temperature reached 102 degree yesterday, highest of the year.

 Lively Lead :

Aided by strong winds , The forest fire engulfed the green cover very

easily .

Important of mind ,you imagine.

Delayed lead (Combo lead)

For features, for slow stories

Sets a scene, evokes a mood.

She walked in slowly,

Prayed for a minute, Started with a poem, Later ignited the crowd.

 Punch & Catrige or Capsule :

Blunt, explosive statement, Short – but upto the point

K.Rupert .M became the father of the sixth child at the age of 74.

Historical or Literary allusion

Draws some character in history or literature – relation to a

current events’

– Quote Bible, Kural or from history – statements.

Staccato lead

Short, clipped words, phrase – sentence – create moods and

tells news

Noise begins high

Gather strength

Engulfs expensive box seats two and then spills into the field also.

The world’s greatest footballer scores the winning goal.

Miscellaneous freak leads

Novel approach, to catch attention.

For sale : One town.

Contrast lead

Comparison of extremes

Big v/s small

Comedy v/s tragedy

Age v/s youth

Past v/s present

Not long-ago Indians were waiting for the cycle riding postman, Now they bank upon internet.

Submitted by Joushwa, I MA JMC with inputs from DR. Jayaprakash.C.R

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