2Leads The first words out of an anchor’s mouth as he or she introduces astory is the lead; some spell it lede. A television news lead differsgreatly from the newspaper lead. In TV, we don’t give all theinformation up front; we try to grab and hold a viewer’s interest sothey will continue watching.Lead writing is an art form, meaning it can be hard to define exactlyhow to write a good one, but you know a good lead when you hearone. They are a chance to be creative, catchy and clever. They arealso very important: get one wrong, and you could lose your viewer.Your competition is fiercer than ever, and you need to guide yourviewer along.You must accomplish three basic things in a lead, all three, everytime (well, almostevery time; this is an art, after all):1.Capture the viewer’s attention.2.Set the tone of the story.3.Prepare them for the information to follow.
Leave out such information like names, ages, addresses and otherdetails if they are not interesting or part of the news hook. Ifsomeone has the same name as Taylor Swift and her mail is gettingmixed up, the name could be in the lead. If an address is 1600Pennsylvania Avenue, that could work. If a 100-year-old justgraduated from high school, the age could belong. Notice that in allof these examples we use could, because you could take anotherangle in the lead and not use any details.Present-tense leads are preferred, and future-tense leads are evenbetter. Present-tense leads make your newscast sound up-to-the-minute, allowing your viewer to feel the same.You write a present-tense lead by writing what is true now. Thewoman who robbed the quilt shop was arrested at 10:00 thismorning, so what is present for your six o’clock newscast? She is injail. The owners are relieved. Police are building a case against her.Pick whichever of these you can write the most compelling leadabout.Example 1:A WOMAN IS WEARING ORANGE TONIGHT AFTER POLICE SAY SHEROBBED A QUILT STORE TO SEW HER OWN CREATIONS.Example 2:THE OWNERS OF A QUILT STORE ARE RELIEVED TO KNOW THEWOMAN WHO ROBBED THEM WON’T BE COMING BACK SOON.Example 3:POLICE ARE PATCHING TOGETHER THEIR CASE TO PROVE A LOCALWOMAN GOT HER SEWING DONE BY STEALING IT.
These examples just show the first two purposes of a lead; they stillneed to prepare the viewer for what follows. If these introducedVOSOTs or VOs, you could take the video next. A lead for a packagemight finish up like this:SOME QUILT STORE OWNERS ARE RELIEVED TO KNOW THE WOMANWHO POLICE SAY ROBBED THEM WON’T BE COMING BACK SOON.OUR MISTY INGLET TAKES YOU BACK TO THE STORE WHERE ONEPHONE CALL FROM POLICE MADE THINGS A LOT LESS TENSE.A plaguing problem in broadcast news writing is falsepresent-tense.The basic form is, a man walks into a bar… We tell jokes in falsepresent-tense, but news should not be done this way.
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- Spring '17
- Grammatical tense, robbery