These are the 6 Types of Leads in Journalism

When you start writing in a journalistic context, it is essential to remember the difference between “leads” and “sources.”

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, a lead is an opening paragraph of what gets written. The source is where the journalist obtains the information.

If someone says, “I’ve got a lead on a story,” that is different than the types of leads that go into the final piece.

These are the different types of leads you’ll find journalists writing each day to convey stories, profiles, and current events.

What Are the Different Types of Leads in Journalism?

1. Single-Item Leads

This structure focuses on a single element in a summary. The goal of this introduction is to create a strong hook that encourages the reader to follow.

2. Summary Leads

Most reporters use this option because it provides a quick summary of what to expect in the rest of the article. It uses as few words as possible while answering the six essential questions of journalism: who, what, where, when, why, and how.

3. Creative Leads

Most profile pieces use this lead option because it captures immediate interest in a person, organization, or community story. It focuses on the details of the subject matter to help the reader start building a relationship with the writing.

4. Analogy Leads

Reporters use this lead when writing to create comparisons between news events and something else a reader might understand. “The explosion at the chemical factory was like a nuclear bomb exploding,” would be an example of this option.

5. Short-Sentence Leads

The goal of this lead is to use a short phrase or a single work as a teaser. Journalists use the rest of the information later in the piece to keep the reader engaged. Although it seems gimmicky at times, this structure works well in print if the editor runs the story on two different pages.

6. Delayed Identification Leads

This option is used quite frequently by journalists because it identifies the critical elements of a story before identifying the participants involved. It sets up the reporting throughout the remainder of the piece by introducing the reader to what happened.

What is the Best College for Journalism?

Journalists come under fire today for being providers of “fake news.” One way to avoid that issue is to attend one of the best schools that teaches this career option.

Several different choices are available in the United States if you want to pursue a journalism major. Here are the best programs to consider attending when your goal is to report on current events and breaking news.

List of the Best College Programs for Journalism

1. Northwestern University

This private school is situated about 30 minutes outside of the city of Chicago. The undergraduate enrollment is less than 10,000 students per year, helping to keep class sizes down. Instead of focusing on semesters or trimesters, the institution follows a quarter-based academic calendar.

2. Washington University

This St. Louis-based institution has a total undergraduate enrollment of about 7,500 students. The campus is somewhat small compared to other schools at only 169 acres, but it is also located in the heart of the city. You’ll get to study journalism while enjoying the culture and life of this beautiful Midwestern community.

3. University of Southern California

USC offers an incredible journalism major while keeping students in an urban setting. The central campus is right in the downtown arts and education corridor of Los Angeles, with satellite locations around SoCal to attend. Earning a degree here gives you a highly-esteemed education that can get you a job almost anywhere.

4. New York University

Attending this institution will put you in the heart of Greenwich Village in Manhattan. You received guaranteed housing for all four years of your studies, helping you to find your roots in NYC while learning the foundation of your future career. Almost 300 student organizations are available on-campus to explore.

5. University of Florida

With over 2,000 acres of classes, athletic fields, and more, this suburban campus is only two miles from downtown Gainesville. Over 50,000 students attend this school, providing you with plenty of social opportunities. Many graduates with journalism degrees find themselves working for the nation’s largest news providers in print and television.

Many other local schools provide excellent journalism programs. You can also attend a junior or community college to complete your entry-level credits for less before moving to one of these storied institutions.

Is Technical Writing the Right Career for You?

Technical writing follows process documentation to create user instructions, software guides, or scientific knowledge. An entry-level way to see if this career choice could be the right one for you would be to practice writing how-to guides as blog posts.

If you love showing others how to accomplish or understand something specific, this job can be very rewarding.

You must follow several steps in the creation process to ensure that the work is complete. Your journey in this career often starts with an understanding of the technical data you must convey to the reader.

How Technical Research Turns into Writing

Most technical writers don’t have a degree in the field or industry where they work. They create materials based on the research they perform while typing out the text for readers to enjoy.

Let’s use a healthcare writer as an example for this process. This person might be familiar with radiology, but they do not have an understanding of supplements.

If their job were to create a technical manual involving the manufacturing processes followed by Argentyn 23, Sovereign Silver, or Quicksilver Scientific to create a healthy supplement, research would be necessary to complete the assignment.

Technical research involving unfamiliar topics is a common standard for modern writing. If you can find useful information online consistently and love to write, this career could be a perfect choice.

What Are the Benefits of Technical Writing?

When you follow a career path that includes technical writing, your job puts you into a position where you become a lifelong learner. You must be well-versed in each field to produce new documents to follow.

The depth of knowledge and wisdom needed for basic instructions or manual development requires a broad understanding of each subject to ensure accuracy.

Working as a technical writer means that you can find a job in today’s most lucrative fields. Engineering, consulting, health and wellness, manufacturing, and financial institutions all require this service.

Most technical writers can earn a salary that equates to $20 to $40 per hour. Many individuals work on a per-contract basis in this field, so opportunities for traditional full-time employment can be hard to find. 
If you are interested in other writing careers, such as publishing, you should spend some time learning about what this career entails and what sort of training you will need to succeed.

Best Movies About Investigative Journalism

You can hear a lot of noise about fake news online today. We must remember that authentic investigative journalism changes the world when it uncovers stories that people need to know.

Many of the best movies about investigative journalism do an excellent job of capturing what the experience is like in real life. If you are looking for something new to watch this evening, consider streaming or renting one of these titles.

List of the Best Movies About Investigative Journalism

1. “All the President’s Men

This movie takes you through the story of how journalists broke the news of the Watergate scandal. The work would eventually take down the Nixon Administration. What is even more remarkable about this film is that it hit movie theaters only two years after the president resigned. It is about as close to current events as one can get from Hollywood.

2. “Broadcast News

Although this movie is meant to be satire, it feels a lot like reality for anyone who has ever worked on a local news broadcast. The film is loosely based on the life of Susan Zirinsky, who rose to become the president of CBS News.

3. “Network

Most people know about the “I’m mad as hell” speech, but they don’t realize it comes from one of the best journalism movies. It is a surprisingly funny film that seems to have a message that was meant for today’s polarizing coverage.

4. “Shattered Glass

This underrated film covers how Stephen Glass from the New Republic built a reputation as an up-and-coming writer. The only problem with his work is that he made up most of the content that he wrote. It is an exciting tale – investigative journalism that takes down a journalist.

5. “Live From Baghdad

HBO made this move to show the pivotal moment when CNN was in Iraq to start broadcasting footage from the 1991 Persian Gulf War. It shows the dedication that reports have to tell a story, especially when it is an event that might change the world.

6. “State of Play

Russell Crowe stars in this 2009 movie as a journalist who investigates the death of a politician’s lover. The film has a ridiculous amount of star power for something that only made about $20 million in profits. It is based on a British TV show that shares the same name.
Learning about investigative journalism is a great way to discover more about the craft of journalism. You can learn lessons from many places, including popular personalities like Jon Stewart.

Lessons Journalists Can Learn from Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart might have gotten his start in comedy, but his work on The Daily Show made him a trustworthy source for news. He became one of the most rational-sounding voices in television.

Stewart always kept some humor about the news and its analysis. He was also never afraid to take a tough stance when there was a clear line between right and wrong. His crew was never scared to satirize spin, belittle, bombast, and call out the blatant hypocrisy of politicians, journalists, or the average person on the street.

When Stewart was the face of The Daily Show, its website told people that the program had an anchor, five correspondents, and no credibility. It never pretended to have integrity or accuracy, but the information that the team provided always seemed to be closer to the truth.

The Best Lesson is to Stop Taking Yourself Seriously

A journalist is there to report the news. People don’t want opinions or thoughts. They want to know what is happening in their community, country, and the rest of the world.

That is only the first lesson. Here are a few more.

1. News is a Choice

A 24-hour news industry means that multiple networks have tons of information to find for people to consume. It is up to each person to choose what they want to see or hear.

2. You Don’t Need to Present Both Sides

Donald Trump is a polarizing figure because he attempts to cater to all sides while still trying to offer a moral foundation. There are some incidents when “very fine people” aren’t on both sides. Sometimes, no one falls into that category. Instead of trying to show everything, journalists can walk away from the idea of false balance.

3. Walk Away From the Commercialism

The people who pay the piper are the ones that dictate the message. Advertisers leverage their influence on news organizations all of the time by pulling their funding when a story or viewpoint comes out that they don’t like. If you want to focus on the news as a journalist, you can’t be in a position to be bought.

4. Honesty is Always the Best Policy

Being a journalist doesn’t mean that you try to make yourself look good. The goal is to convey a specific story to others that you care about in some way. When what you’re reporting on seems dull or boring, that message gets conveyed to everyone else.

Jon Stewart learned that sometimes you must stand up for what is right – no matter what the consequences are afterward. Today’s journalists should learn to do the same.

How Long Should My Introduction be for an Article?

The introductory paragraph of an article serves as your thesis statement. It is what hooks a reader to what you plan to convey in the body of the post to follow.

This basic understand can be applied to just about any creative work. From writing blog posts to copywriting for a brand like BrainMD and Integrative Therapeutics, where the brand needs to grab the reader’s attention so they capture the attention of the reader. This works best if you are clear, precise, and straightforward with your initial statement.

Be bold with your statement. Then support your argument with the rest of your content.

50 Words or Less as a Best Practice

The number of sentences found in your introduction is less important than its actual length. You should try to keep your presentation to about 50 words.

Placing that limitation on your writing forces your creativity into a place where you must be precise with your words. Fluff and fillers don’t belong in your thesis statement.

If you are writing a longer piece of literature, such as a novel or a 50-page research paper, your introduction will be more extensive because there is more information to cover. You might have the intro be a couple of pages in length.

Long papers still follow the 50-word rule when determining the overall thesis statement of the piece. Even novels adopt this rule.

Think about some of the iconic first lines in some books. 

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug. 

That piece from Little Women sets the stage for the rest of the story, drawing up the curtain of imagination’s stage to encourage the reader to keep going.

How to Write an Incredible Introduction

1. Grab the attention of the reader immediately. Use an anecdote, relevant quote, or a specific fact that startles the individual to keep reading.

2. Provide some background information for your thesis statement. It helps to offer some generalized content before being specific.

3. Be bold with your thesis statement. Arguments are meant to be controversial because that is how you cause an echo chamber to grow silent. Get as many of your main points as possible into the introduction.

4. An introduction that is too short is as problematic as one that is too long. You need to grab the reader’s attention, transition them to the rest of the text, and establish the theme of your narrative.

5. Learn and understand the ACE writing method. This will help you to form a more cohesive and factual article that will make going back and reviewing your introductory paragraph easier.

Writing has some generalized rules to follow, but it is essential to remember that some were meant to be broken. The introduction should be as long as it needs to be to convey information to others.

How Gonzo Journalism Informs and Engages the Public

Gonzo journalism is a form of reporting that never claims to offer objectivity. People who write in this area often use first-person narratives and opinions as a way to convey information to others. Hunter S. Thompson was the first to popularize this style, being the protagonist in the report while providing self-satire and social critique.

The goal of gonzo journalism is to offer a detached style using quotes and facts to relay data without the verification of third-party sources. Instead of using a strictly-edited report that sees multiple people making changes to it, Thompson used this method to create a personal approach. It is not uncommon to use exaggeration and profanity in a piece as a way to drive home a critical point.

Interestingly enough, it was a critique of Thompson’s work that led to this term. Editor Bill Cardoso of The Boston Globe called one of Hunter S. Thompson pieces about the Kentucky Derby as “pure gonzo journalism,” using the reference to describe the last man standing after drinking all night long.

Fiction is the Best Fact in Gonzo Journalism

Thompson always believed that journalistic objectivity was a myth. Everyone has a preference for specific stories or how to frame them. Instead of pretending that this perspective didn’t exist, he decided to embrace it with his writing style. It was a notion once made popular by William Faulkner, another writer who believed that fiction created the best facts.

Although Thompson’s iconic work Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is seen as one of the best examples of gonzo journalism, he always thought of the work as a failure. Thompson wanted it to be an unedited work of his efforts, but it ended up going through five different revisions before going to publication.

Even when Thompson wrote columns and articles for local papers, he refused to go through the standardized editing process. He purposely submitted items late so that they couldn’t be edited before going to the printer.

The outcome of this work became the foundation of the webzine culture that developed in the late 1990s. One could even say that the “fake news” propagated on social media is derived from Thompson’s approach.

“Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long,” Thompson once observed. He didn’t get any satisfaction from that view. His thought was that a writer should put themselves into each piece – so that’s what he did.

What Functions Do the Media Serve in Democratic Politics?

Even when post-communist countries embrace the idea of democracy, strict laws often prevent the media from reporting on political activities.

In Central America, the opposite issue occurs. A select group of powerful families owns most of the media in the region. Their approach to reporting can threaten the democratic governing gains that take shape.

Some countries have media that gets entirely controlled by the government. Then there are the platforms in the United States that have massive access and freedoms to report on almost anything.

What functions do the media service in democratic politics?

Media Does More Than Reporting the News

The media has a surprising amount of power in the Democratic process. Most people get their information from journalists than from any other resource. That means it shapes the way that people think and feel about the world.

In the American version of media, you can see organizations taking one political side over the other by slanting reports in one direction or the other. MSNBC tends to side on the side of liberalism, while Fox News is the typical standard-bearer for conservatism.

Media bias can be a significant issue, although the biggest complaints usually involve a liberal perspective on those with conservative views. 

The issue involves a misperception of the journalism type used to convey information. Four different options are available: partisan, objective, interpretive, and yellow.

It is not unusual to see a conflation of partisan journalism with the objective form.

Journalists cannot report on every possible news account. That means reporters and editors determine what items rise to newsworthy status. By choosing the stories presented to the public, an agenda of importance gets set that shapes public debate. This function is a form of signaling that can influence the government at the highest levels. 

William Randolph Hearst used his newspapers in the late 19th century to talk about how cruel the Spanish were with their colonial governing practices. When the USS Maine exploded mysteriously, the press blamed Spain for the issue. It would result in the start of the Spanish-American War in 1898.

The media sees their role in a Democracy as holding people accountable to their role in government. Reporters work to find the truth, expose hypocrisy, and keep things fair and balanced. That structure works if their own bias doesn’t come into play when presenting information to the public. 

Journalism Questions to Ask While Shadowing a Reporter

Journalism is more than the job of reporting the news. It also embraces the art of the interview.

The best journalists in the world are unafraid to ask tough questions. That means it is essential to perform research about individuals and subject material before going into an interview. 

If you are shadowing a reporter to learn this trade, then several essential questions are important to ask.

“What is a day like in this job?”

This question can give you more insight into what it is like to be a reporter. Although people see or read the final report, most don’t know how much downtime happens when gathering information. You need to be ready at a moment’s notice to report the news.

“Is the work what you thought it would be?”

It is essential to know if working as a reporter in real-life is the same as the expectations you have when shadowing. Talking to them about their experiences can help you to see if this work is something that you want to do.

“Do you enjoy working as a reporter?”

Most people will lie when answering this question because they don’t want to scare people away from a career. You don’t experience that issue as often in journalism. Reporting the news requires a fact-based approach. If someone can’t handle the truth when shadowing, then how can they ask tough questions at the right time?

“What classes would you recommend taking?”

This question is a crucial one to ask for anyone shadowing a reporter without an undergraduate degree. Knowing what classes to take can help you to pursue a major that can help you to break into journalism in the future. Some schools might only offer English, Literature, or Forensics options, which is why having an idea of how others broke through can help you to start planning.

“How did you get this job?”

Picking the brain of a reporter can get you some solid advice about how to apply for a job in the future. If you need contacts in the industry to get some interviews, then this time is the place to secure that information. 

You should also ask any follow-up questions to the answers received if you need more information. When you come into the shadowing process as prepared as a reporter should be in any situation, then you can discover if this job is the right one for you. 

How Journalists Adapted to Quarantine During COVID-19

As businesses shut down because of stay-at-home orders, essential workers were told to telecommute whenever possible. That meant many journalists could offer their reports without going into the field.

Will Reeve, a reporter from ABC News, offered a segment for the show Good Morning America in April, where he was caught not wearing any pants. He had a jacket and shirt on, but then a bare leg made it onto the national broadcast. At least Reeve could poke fun at himself on Twitter afterward.

Some reporters are still operating as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic because of their duties, supplementing their routines with products from brands like Metagenics, Perque, and Seeking Health

Even then, you will see some differences in how they report the news because of this pandemic.

1. Social Distancing

Journalists are now interviewing people by staying six feet away from them. You can also see reporters using Facetime, Zoom, and other video conferencing tools to gather information from sources instead of a face-to-face meeting.

2. Ingenuity

Teleprompters aren’t available today in the field because journalists are working solo instead of with a team. That means a piece of glass with a smartphone becomes a replacement option so that a reporter can see what needs to be said. Some are even put a blanket over themselves so that a voiceover piece can be recorded successfully.

3. Shift Rotation

Instead of sending one reporter to White House briefings, CNN implemented a schedule of rotating shifts to limit exposure risks. This approach is applied at local stations around the world whenever possible, keeping journalists away from the public unless there is no other way to gather the news.

4. Personal Protective Equipment

Journalists are wearing the same protective equipment that you can find first responders using – except for N95 respirators. Since reporters can find themselves interacting with others unexpectedly, they are almost forced to be in their PPE full time.

5. Storyboards

Some reporters are unable to gather the shots needed for a report. Sending someone out to film specific details can be challenging, which is why many are creating storyboards similar to what you’d see for movies and TV shows. This information makes it possible to have multiple people working on a project with a minimum number of people leaving home.

As lockdown orders end and quarantines become a distant memory, many of the innovations that journalists pioneered during this time will likely stay in place. Although you can’t replace a man-on-the-street interview, it is easier to do it on Skype.