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Learning how to write a news story for broadcast

The Lead is the most important part to any news story

Writing a broadcast lead is not the same as writing a newspaper lead

In newspapers the lead captures the entire story with who, what, where, when, why and how and you add details in descending order of importance, putting the least important details of the story at the end

Broadcast news stories are shorter than newspaper stories and must maintain the information level and interest throughout a story

Few people read an entire newspaper story, but most people listen to the entire TV and Radio news story, so keep it interesting and in the lead:

Capture the essence of the story without giving too much detail

Make the lead simple and wet the appetite

Command the attention of the audience

Grabs the listener´s attention - the rest of the story should keep that attention

Make the listeners want to listen to the rest of the story by giving them just enough in that first sentence that they will want to know more

Think about what the story is and in the lead start with whatever carries the most impact

Ask yourself, what is it that is in the story that makes it newsworthy? And then use that for the lead

Three Keys to writing a good lead:

Simplicity: KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid. Make the lead a simple sentence with basic information

Active voice: Make sure your subject is doing something, not having something done to it

Present tense: The news is about what is happening not what happened or what might happen

When writing your lead, leave out:

The ordinary

A name if it is unfamiliar

An age if it is not interesting

Addresses

Some things to avoid writing in your lead:

A Jammed lead where you try to get too much information into the first sentence

A Cliché lead using worn out expressions

A Question lead where you ask the audience to think - the audience doesn´t want to think, they want to be told

A Quote lead where you lead with someone else´s words

A time - remember the news gets recycled

A number - people will forget the number or not be paying attention by the time they know what that number meant

Contact me by Email at: aselepak@ufl.edu