In writing an effective lead for a news story - a reporter should not get carried away with trying to pack too much information into the first sentence. This will results in awkward and convoluted sentence structure. The lead should be a declarative sentence in the active voice - that is, with a subject followed by a verb and then a direct object. Although the lead should answer the 5 W's and how, normally only two or three of them need be in the first sentence, depending on their relative importance.
The first and most important paragraph of the news story is called lead. Readers will normally judge a story on newspaper by its lead. If it does not grab their attention, they will not read on. It summarizes the contents of the story and conveys its mood and a sense of urgency.
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Although leads should convey a sense of urgency, a reporter should avoid leads that promise more than the story can deliver. News story should not normally begin with quotes. If a statement is the most important aspect of a story, the reporter should paraphrase it in his lead. And individuals referred to in leads should have their full names and titles included. The lead of the news story is followed by the body or the rest of the story. The body should follow the lead logically. Although news stories should cover the event thoroughly, a reporter should not get carried away with details.
A news report should tell its story in the fewest possible sentences. This is because both readers (for time considerations) and publishers (for space considerations) prefer shorter stories. As with leads, paragraphs in the body of the story should be kept short. Short paragraphs look better on a newspaper page and are easier to read than long ones
There are three kinds of lead that a newspaper journalist should use in writing the lead.
Conventional or summary lead - is used in straight news and this answer right away all or any of the 5 W's and How. Under this kind of lead, a reporter can begin with:
Grammatical beginning lead - is used when the lead is introduced by a kind of grammatical form which is usually a phrase or a clause used to emphasize a feature. And the important W's are found in the main clause, not in the introductory or subordinate clause which is just a modifying feature. Under this kind of lead, a reporter can begin with:
Novelty lead - this kind of lead is best to use in writing news-features. They are writing in such away that they attract attention or carry out definite purpose. Under this kind of lead, a reporter can begin with:
Lead can be a single word, a phrase, a clause, a brief sentence, an entire paragraph or a series of paragraph. Its functions, aside from introducing the news story, are to tell the story in capsule form and to answer right away the questions the reader would naturally ask. A good lead answers all the important questions of the readers, and arouses the reader's interest to continue reading the story.
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