Decisions, Decisions

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"The lead writer must first decide what the most important news is, which can be difficult in situations where much is happening"(Cappon 24).

I found this decision tough when writing the assigned Accident Report.  I came to the conclusion that both events were significant enough to include in the lead, but I don't know how well I combined them to be received effectively.  One thing I've grasped thus far is that detail is critical.  The problem I'm now having is deciding which details are most valuable and where do you put them. I suppose my understanding of this will gradually improve as I read more news stories with an attention to their structure and content placement.  I like whenever things are laid out plain and simple (news readers likely appreciate this, too), so I was grateful for the short list of reasons Cappon gave for ineffective leads:

·         Secondary detail

·         Abstract general language

·         Vagueness

·         Stress on how something is announced rather than what is said, or how news originates rather than the news itself.

·          Entanglement in the chronology of an event

Now if I can just resolve the difference between minor and crucial details.  For instance Cappon says if "bank robbers escaped in a baby blue Mercedes, that small fact belongs in the lead." If you're cutting words for the sake of brevity, and there are a plethora of other details, such as those in our recent exercise, does the car's description merit lead status?  See, that's my trouble. I don't know!

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2 Comments

Aja Hannah said:

Yeah! I had that problem too. Brevity? Then why add the baby blue Mercedes? I suppose that makes it more interesting, more visual? Maybe because baby blue is a weird color for criminals to want to drive in. Or helps identify the car for others on the lookout. Perhaps this car is going to be the whole article because that's the only reason why I see it would be put in the lead.

Josie also writes about this in her blog.

April M. Minerd said:

I never even stopped to think how funny that image is: A bunch of intimidating guys geared with guns and ski-masks hopping into a candy colored car. That would make the story livelier.

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April M. Minerd on Decisions, Decisions: I never even stopped to think
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