Introduction to Lead Writing
Every news story begins with an introduction which is called “Lead” reminding you that this could be a single word, phrase, a brief sentence, an entire paragraph, or a series of paragraphs. The main function of the lead is not only to introduce the news story but to give the questions of the reader. The good lead answers all important information about the news story.
*Kinds of Leads: Conventional or Summary Lead, Grammatical Beginning Lead, Novelty Lead.
1. Conventional or Summary Lead
This kind of lead is used in straight news, it answers right away all or any of the six Ws and two Hs, it may be one of the following:
WHO LEAD. Used when the person involved is more prominent than what he does and what had happened to him.
Example: President Rodrigo Duterte addressed on April 20, the PMA graduates in Baguio City.
WHAT LEAD. Used when the event or what took place is more important than the person involved in the story.
Example: The NSAT will be given Nov. 24 to all graduating High School students desiring to enroll in four-year college course.
WHERE LEAD. Used when the place is unique and no prominent person is involved in the story.
Example: The Philippines will be the site of the next Miss Universe Contest.
WHEN LEAD. Rarely used as the reader presumes the story to be timely. However, this lead is useful when speaking of deadlines, holidays, and important dates.
Example: Today, almost to the hour, Revolutionary Government was proclaimed by former President Joseph Estrada.
WHY LEAD. Used when the reason is more prominent or unique than what had happens.
Example: Because of poverty, around a hundred students dropped out from school last year. This was learned from PNU president Nilo L. Rosas.
HOW LEAD. Used when the manner, mode, means, or method of achieving the story is unnatural in way.
Example: By appealing to the school board, the Manila Science High School was able to construct a three story concrete building.
WHENCE LEAD. History of the News
HENCE LEAD. Future of the News
2. Grammatical Beginning Lead
There are times when the lead is introduced by a kind of grammatical form which is usually a phrase or a clause used to emphasize a feature. Here, the important W’s are found in the main clause, not in the introductory or subordinate clause which is just a modifying feature
Prepositional Phrase Lead. Phrase is introduced by a preposition.
Example: With brooms and other cleaning equipment, boy scouts from the Manila Public High Schools cleaned the City Markets in consonance with Mayor Lito Atienza’s CLEAN and Beautification Drive.
Infinitive Phrase Lead. It begins with the sign of the infinitive to plus the main verb.
Example: To encourage tourism, balikbayans are given a warm welcome by their fellow Filipinos.
Participial Phrase Lead. It is introduced by the present and past participle of the verb.
Example: Hoping to cop first place, the PNU wood-pushers honed up for the chess championship games. (Present Participle). Dressed like a priests, robbers were able to enter the bank. (Past Participle)
Gerund Phrase Lead. It is introduced by a gerund (a verbal noun ending in ing).
Example: Winning the development communication trophy, during the national press conference was Araullo High School’s best achievement of the year.
Clause Lead. The lead begins with a clause which may either be independent or subordinate, or may either be a noun or an adjectival or adverbial clause.
Example: Because September 9 was Osmena Day all lessons dealt with the life of the late president Sergio Osmena Sr. (Subordinate, adverbial)
3. Novelty Leads.
Some kinds of leads are best used in writing news features. They are written in such a way that they attract the attention or carry out a definite purpose. Among these kinds of novelty leads are: Astonisher lead. Contrast lead. Parody lead. Epigram lead. Punch lead. Picture lead. One-word lead Background lead. Quotation lead. Descriptive lead. Question lead.
Astonisher Lead. Uses an interjection or an exclamatory sentence.
Example: Champion of District 1! Better look your best this week!
Contrast Lead. Describes two extremes or opposites for emphasis. The sharper the contrast, the more effective the lead will be.
Example: Four months before the beautification and cleanup drive, zone 15 in Tondo, Manila was the dirtiest district. Three months after, it won first place in the CLEAN contest sponsored by the Department of Community and Local Government.
Epigram Lead. Opens by quoting a common expression, verse, or epigram, at least familiar in the locality.
Example: Like father, like son. Ramon Garcia Jr. graduated Valedictorian this year Ten years ago, his father, Mr. Ramon Garcia Sr. also topped his class and delivered his valedictory address on the same pulpit where the young Garcia delivered his.
Picture Lead. Describes a person, a place, or an event and at the same time, creating a mental picture of the subject matter in the mind of the reader.
Example: The new principal although only on his early thirties, is already silver-haired. He seldom talks, but when he does, he talks with sense.
Background Lead. Similar to the picture lead, except that it describes the setting which is more important than that of the event or the person involved.
Example: The PNU campus was turned into a miniature carnival ground on September 1 during the 104th F-Day Celebration of the University. Decorated with buntings and multi-colored lights, the quadrangle was a grand setting for a barrio fiesta.
Descriptive Lead. Used when comparatively few descriptive words can vividly formulate an imagery.
Example: Dressed in white Polo Barong, and with Diploma in their hands, 1,500 graduates marched down the stage to the tune of Osmena High March.
Parody Lead. Consist of a Parody of a well-known song, poems or lines.
Example: Water, water everywhere, but no water to drink. This was what the food victims found in their dismay.
Punch Lead. A short, forceful word or expression. It is rarely used.
Example: Victory Day! Magsaysay High School celebrated on March 18 its fifth Victory in the city-wide journalism contest.
One Word Lead.
Example: March! Thus, ordered Hi-Y president Lina Jr of Osmena High School to start the “Walk for Health” fund raising drive.
Quotation Lead. Consist of speaker’s direct words which are very striking and which are usually quoted from speech, a public address, or an interview.
Example: “The youth in the New Republic have become partners of the government in its struggle for progress and advancement,” thus spoke PNU Director Rene Romero to some 400 student delegates to the 2006 Hi-Y-Y-Teens Leadership Training Seminar held on December 26-30 at the Edilberto Dagot Hall.
Question Lead. An answer to a question which is the basis of the news story.
Example: Who will reign as Miss Intramural’s this year? This will be known on August 8 after the final screening to be held at the PNU Gym and Performing Arts Center.
Reference: Cruz, Ceciliano-Jose, Campus Journalism and School Paper Advising, Second Edition, 2010, Rex Printing Company, Inc., 84-86 P. Florentino St., Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City.
sample news letter: SPECIAL SpEd editon Quill and Scroll
powerpoint lecture: leads for lecture