Title, Basic News Writing. Author, Melvin Mencher. Edition, 2. Publisher, Wm. C. Brown Publishers, Original from, the University of California. Digitized, Feb . Melvin Mencher is the author of News Writing and Reporting, the text that set the standard for the field, now in its Eleventh Edition. He has extensive experience. This edition continues to illustrate the principles of news reporting and writing with telling examples from print and broadcast journalism. Students are shown.
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News Reporting and Writing. The lead gives the reader the sense of the story to follow. There are two basic types of leads: This lead tells the reader or listener the most important aspect of the story at once. It often is used with feature stories. It should not exceed 35 words. The effective story lead meets two requirements. It captures the essence of the event, and it cajoles the reader or listener into staying awhile.
We slept last night in the enemy’s camp. McCormick today bought a poor man’s youth. UP’s New York Office quickly killed the badic and sent out a sub substitute lead. A month of Sundays hit the calendar.
Basic News Writing
Snow, followed by small boys on sleds. Rule Breakers, but Memorable. These leads defy almost every canon decreed by those who prescribe standards of journalistic writing. The first lead violates the rule demanding the reporter’s anonymity.
The UP lead is in questionable taste. Terry’s lead is a quote lead, McKelway’s asks a question — both violations of the standards.
Smith’s weather forecast is a little joke. Yet, the leads are memorable.
They work because they meet the requirements of lead writing: Mayor Lindsay listed facilities for public safety yesterday as his top spending priority for next year, shifting from his pledge of a year ago to make clean streets his first objective in capital expenditures.
Svenson, the prolific author of many of the Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins and Hardy Boys juvenile books, said that the trick in writing is to set up danger, mystery and excitement on page I to convince the child to turn the page. He said he had rewritten page 1 as many as 20 times. Plato knew the importance of the first words of a written work. The Old Testament begins with simple words in a short sentence: Everyone remembers great beginnings: It was the best basiic times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
Another book, written 92 years later, is also familiar to high school readers, possibly because of the beginning that trapped them into reading further: If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you newz to know the truth.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. That’s the way Jane Austen began Pride and Prejudice. I’ve often heard writers say that if you have written your lead you have 90 percent of the story. What will you choose? But before the words can be selected, the facts must be sorted out.
How does the reporter select the one or two facts for a lead from the abundance of material he or she has gathered? What’s the focus of the story? Fact sifting begins well before the reporter sits down to write. Experienced reporters agree with journalists John W. Chancellor and Walter R. Mdlvin Five Lead Questions. Their first step consists of answering two questions: What was unique or the most important or unusual thing that happened?
After answering these questions, the reporter seeks words and a form that will give shape to the responses by asking three more questions: Is a direct or a delayed lead best?
Does the theme of the story go in the first sentence or somewhere within the first six paragraphs? Is there a colorful word or dramatic phrase I can work into the lead? What is the subject, and what verb will best move the reader into the story?
Let’s accompany Sarah as she melviin on a story about a talk she has just covered. The dollar costs have been enormous, to say nothing of the social costs. Sarah is writing for the campus newspaper. mecher
If she were working for a radio or Bqsic station, nws would not have the luxury of time to think about her lead and story. When you’ve got to run to a telephone to start dictating, or when you’ve got to go on camera and start talking, the one thing you really need is to have a lead in your head. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but if you frame it properly, the rest of the story will flow from bsic in a natural and graceful way. Sarah knows that if she can identify the heart of the talk, her story will ju; about organize itself because the next several paragraphs after the lead will cor sist of quotes that buttress and amplify the lead material she has selected.
E said than done, she muses. Well, what’s her lead? She had better start writing, and she does: Sarah isn’t happy with her lead.
News Reporting and Writing – Melvin Mencher – Google Books
She talks to herself: That’s called backing into the lead. All this kind of lead tells the reader is that the speaker spoke to an audience, which is hardly unique and certainly not interesting or important enough to merit anyone’s attention. This information was clearly the most important. She could work the figures into the second and third paragraphs to explain the reasons for the high cost.
Gerald Cantor told students and faculty members in Hall Auditorium that the annual costs associated with the pregnancies of almostunmarried women under the age of 20 “are vastly greater than we had thought. He attributed the costs to social services. Sarah pauses to read what she has written.
She is satisfied that she has found the most important part of the talk for her lead, that she has identified the speaker properly and placed the talk. She isn’t happy with the word said in her lead. Should I make it warned? Or is that too strong? He really didn’t warn. I’ll leave it as is.
Basic Media Writing
Sarah has answered the first three of our five questions for lead writing: We take leave of Sarah as she ponders the fourth and fifth questions. If you wish, lend her a hand. A Race for Congress. Here is a lead a reporter wrote about a congressional race. He thought he had answered the first two questions writers ask themselves when writing a lead: Sarasin and William R. Ratchford, candidates in the Fifth Congressional race, to a Connecticut League of Women Voters questionnaire were released today.
He did include what had happened and who was involved. But he did not make his answer to the first question sufficiently specific. What did they say in their replies? The reporter reached this answer down in the story, but his editor pointed out that voters want to know the opinions and positions of their candidates quickly in stories about politics. Such events do not lend themselves to delayed leads. A better lead for the political story might have been: Sarasin and Williani R. Ratchford, candidates for Congress in the Fifth District, agree that financing Social Security is the major domestic issue facing the nation.
The next paragraph might have included the background information that the reporter had mistakenly put into his lead: The League had sent its questionnaires to all major candidates for office. The subsequent paragraphs would expand the Social Security theme and introduce additional material from the replies of the candidates.
All these leads are direct leads for breaking or hard news stories.
Edna Buchanan began a story for The Miami Herald this way: Bad things happen to the husbands of the Widow Elkin. Someone murdered husband No. Anyone out there who isn’t hanging on every word?
Notice the detail Buchanan supplies: It was not just any pan but a frying pan with which No.