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Dealing with the Lead

Even though it is necessary to give all of the information, this chapter (chapter 3 of The Associated Press Guide to News Writing) goes to show that it doesn't all have to go into the lead. In fact, if too much information is given in the lead, the important main point of the lead can get lost in the mix. It seems it's best to just keep it all simple, otherwise the reader will either get lost or lose interest. It also seems that clever leads are risky. While they can be a good idea, one has to be careful to make sure they don't cross the line and become humorous when they're not supposed to be. I'm not going to lie; I laughed when I read both examples of clever leads in this chapter. It seems it can be a good idea if it gets the reader's attention, but we need to be careful to make sure we get the right effect with it.

As for the question posted on the course website--"How frequently do prose journalists begin their leads with "when"?--it doesn't appear to happen very often. I looked at 17 articles on cnn.com, and only 3 of the leads started by answering the "when" question, which equals out to about 18% of the time. Most of the leads started by answering the "who" question.

While looking at these articles, I came across a humorous comic dealing with freedom of speech that kind of relates to the overall discussion. It's the first draft of the Bill of Rights.

Other Thoughts On This Chapter


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