Quantcast Feature and Novelty Leads

Feature and Novelty Leads Although the summary lead is the simplest, safest and strongest of all leads used in straight newswriting, most media like to add a little variety when leading into a  story.  Feature  leads  are  a  vital  part  of  newspaper writing. The feature lead permits you to take a mundane straight  news  piece  and  transform  it  into  a  story  that captures the interest and empathy of the readers. Novelty  leads  differ  from  summary  leads  in  that they make no attempt to answer all of the five Ws and the  H.  As  the  name  implies,  novelty  leads  are  novel. They  use  different  writing  approaches  to  present different  news  situations  to  attract  the  reader’s  attention and  arouse  curiosity. Feature leads must fit the mood of the story. If you intend to set a particular mood or point of view in a story, your intent or tone should be set at the beginning of the story. If the situation presents itself in which a novelty lead would be appropriate, by all means use it. Do not get into the habit, however, of trying to write a novelty lead for every story, because they are not always adaptable to every situation. It is easy for the unusual to become commonplace if it is seen or heard too often. Novelty leads lose their effect if they are overused. Figure  2-7  presents  various  examples  of  novelty leads  most  commonly  used  in  newswriting.  Although the eight types described are the ones most commonly used, it is a mistake for you to assume that all news leads may  be  categorized  by  type  or  classification.  Their names are not important anyway. To the JO, the ability to write is more important than the ability to categorize. Identity  and  Authority There are two other considerations to keep in mind when  you  are  preparing  news  leads  —  identity  and authority.   In   most   local   stories,   especially homeowners, it is necessary to identify persons frilly in the lead. For  example,  suppose  you  prepared  a  hometown story on a sailor who formerly resided in Louisville, Ky. Not being very experienced, you turn in a lead like the following: “Navy Seaman Eugene M. Brainer reported  for  duty  Feb.  16  aboard  the guided-missile   cruiser   USS   Hinkle, now   operating   in   Western   Pacific waters.” Although  you  have  answered  all  the  Ws  and  H except  why  and  how  (in  this  case  unnecessary),  your lead is still incomplete. The story is meaningless until you  identify  Brainer  as  being  from  Louisville.  Even then, an editor of a Louisville newspaper will want a local angle on the sailor. The only angle available to you is the name of Brainer’s parents and their home address. You must, therefore, identify Brainer more fully in your lead. It is unlikely that many of the newspaper’s readers would know him merely by name, and a city the size of Louisville might have more than one Eugene M. Brainer. To localize the story and to avoid confusion or misinterpretation,   you   would   include   more identification.  The  lead  should  be  written  in  the following  way: “A   Kentucky   native,   Seaman Eugene M. Brainer, son of Mr. and Mrs. Mack  Brainer  of  70  N.  Williams  St., Louisville,  reported  for  duty  Feb.  16 aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Hinkle,  a  unit  of  the  Navy’s  Seventh Fleet in the Pacific” As you can see, complete identification of a person in  the  lead  sometimes  makes  that  lead  long  and cumbersome.  Yet,  it  cannot  be  avoided  in  hometown stories where identity is more important than the action, especially if the action is weak, as it is in the preceding example. In  many  instances,  however,  full  identification  is unnecessary or impractical for inclusion in the lead. In general,  complete  lead  identification  is  unnecessary  and should be avoided when one or more of the following points is true: The action overshadows the person or persons involved. There are too many persons involved to identify all of them by name and rate. ‘The identification does not mean much to the readers in a particular area. The “who” is a prominent, widely known figure. When an individual is not fully identified in the lead, that person must be identified by name, rank or rating, title,   duty   station   and   possibly   hometown   address elsewhere   in   the   story.   This   identification   is   also important for places and things in a story. If you use the name of an unfamiliar town or city in a story, at least identify it by the state in which it is located. If you use 2-15


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