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.

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. 

Every Aspiring Journalist Should Practice the ACE Writing Method

Journalists have come under intense pressure from the Trump Administration for reporting what gets described as “fake news.”


Whether the attacks are justified or not is an observation that typically falls along party lines.

One of the ways that an aspiring journalist can counter these accusations is to practice the ACE writing method. When your sources can provide essential information that speaks the truth, then any charge of falsehood becomes irrelevant.

Here is what you need to know about the ACE writing method today.

A: Answer the Question

The ACE writing method requires journalists to provide a complete answer to any questions that get asked. Then you would use the keywords from the question in the answer to promote a specific thesis for the reader to contemplate. When you structure this step correctly, then you present a realistic claim that encourages everyone to look further into what you’re discussing.

C: Cite the Evidence from the Text

Research is your best friend as a journalist. You need to approach each assignment in the same manner that an attorney presents a case to the court. When you can cite precedent from previous stories or incidents, then the information provides validity to the claims offered in your account.

You must use clear and specific examples from your research that support your claim. Then the writing must describe, define, provide, and refer the particular details needed to suggest that the story you offer is real instead of fantasy, or a formal expression of opinion.

If you quote exact words or phrases from your research, then use quotations for that data. Then cite the location where you found the materials so that others can verify your work.

E: Explain the Connection

Once you lay out the evidence that supports the claim being made in your piece, aspiring journalists must explain the connection for readers. If you assume that people can connect-the-dots independently, then you leave the text open to interpretation – and that’s how you get accused of developing fake news.

Then use the ACE writing method to elaborate on the support you offer from the examples shared in the story. Each effort you make in this effort should answer the “why” questions that readers have after engaging with your work.

Once you use the ACE writing method to complete a story, it is essential to summarize all of the shared information into a concise conclusion. That action will help the reader relate to your initial thesis, creating a complete work that your publisher can appreciate. 

Journalism Glossary of Terms Young Reporters Need to Know

Working as a reporter can be highly rewarding. Although the journalism industry has changed over the past 20 years to be more online than in print, there are still several terms that you need to know to be successful in your career.

Glossary of Terms for Beginning Journalists

Add: An addition to a story that’s already written or in the composition process.

Assignment: An instruction given to a reporter to cover a specific event.

Attribution: Designation of the person quoted in the report, such as the source for the information included in the story.

Banner: The headline that’s across or near the top of the page. It can also be called a ribbon, streamer, or screamer.

B Copy: The bottom section of a story that gets written ahead of an event that happens to close to the publication deadline.

Beat: An assigned area of coverage assigned to a reporter. Can include government, education, crime, or an exclusive story, to name a few.

Break: When a news development becomes available or the point of interruption in a story that started on a previous page.

Bright: An amusing short story.

Bulldog: It is the early edition of the newspaper.

Byline: The name(s) of the reporter(s) who wrote the story. It’s placed on top of the published article.

Correspondent: A reporter who sends news from outside of the newspaper office.

Crony Journalism: Reporting that avoids stories or presents stories lightly to protect friends or personal interests.

Crop: The editing of a photograph to remove a section of the image or to fit the allotted space.

Cut: A printed picture or illustration. Some editors use this term when eliminating material from a story.

Cutline: Text under a picture that names people present in the photograph.

Dateline: A location, such as a city or town, that indicates to the reader where the story begins.

Enterprise Copy: A story that digs deeper into the facts of an event than regular reporting would require. 

Exclusive: A story that delves deeper into a topic than a regular new story; may include named or unnamed sources with unpublished information.

Feature: A news story that emphasizes the entertaining or human aspects of a situation.

Folo: Content that continues an existing story or follows a similar theme of another presented story.

Futures Calendar: A way to track future appointments, interviews, newspaper changes, and story ideas.

Graf: A short paragraph that summarizes or adds to a story or idea.

Handout: An insert added to a newspaper for publication that can include special news stories, roundups, advertisements, etc.

Hard News: News features that cover current events or live coverage.

HFR: Means “Hold for Release.” It is material that cannot be used until it gets released by the source or at a designated time.

Jump: This term refers to the continuation of a story from one page to another.

Insert: Breakout or other features placed into or between a story.

Investigative Reporting: Deeper dive into stories using sources with knowledge of a particular topic; may include privileged documents or interviews with sources that want to remain hidden.

Kill: Removal of a section of a story, or to discard the story entirely.

Lead: The first paragraph of a news story.

Makeup: It’s the design or layout of the piece, including the illustrations, headlines, and body type that the reader sees.

Masthead: This statement is a formal piece of information that includes the name, officers, and place of publication for a newspaper.

Morgue: This term refers to the newspaper library. 

News Hole: Area of the paper for news, illustrations, or non-advertising material.

Off-the-record: Material provided to a reporter in confidence to be used as background information, often unverifiable unless a second source can independently verify the information.

Op-ed Page: An editorial page where the opinions of the news staff or the public can share ideas, positions, and make arguments about relevant topics.

Overnight: Story written before or after a newspaper goes to print, with the intent of publishing it the next day. 

Pool: A selection of reporters and photographers who are designated to specific stories or beats.

Press Release: Content given to news media for publication by individuals, companies, or government officials.

Puff Piece: An irreverent story that may be written for entertainment purposes or to promote something.

Roundup: To gather individual, related stories together.

Rowback: A correction to a previous story.

Running Story: An ongoing development or piece of content that warrants further updates.

Sell: When a reporter pitches an idea for a story.

Shirttail: An addition added to the end of a longer one to clarify a point or to share information on a related topic.

Sidebar: A supporting story that relates to a nearby story; may be written by a separate reporter and published with a byline.

Situation: A roundup piece that gives new readers background information on a particular topic.

Slant: A persuasive piece.

Source: information that helps to build a story; can include people, records, or documents of an event.

Split Page: The front page of an interior section.

Sponsored Content: Story paid for by a third-party, often as an advertisement that is written and displayed like a normal news story; the “sponsored content” or “paid endorsement” designation is important to let readers know the story is not regular editorial content and money may be an influencing factor in the decision to publish the piece. For example, talking about supplement brands in a health story where you see a mention the purchasing of BioRay, Aubrey Organics, and Klaire Labs products, you would want to know that these may be influencing the article; however, since the story isn’t about them, you might not necessarily include any mention of it being sponsored or an endorsement.

Stringer: Contractor worker who is paid per story or number of words.

Tight: When ads reduce space for news stories.

Tip: Information given to editorial staff, sometimes anonymously.

Verification: Checking the authenticity of a story.

Wire Services: An electronic transmission portal operated by the Associated Press or United Press International to make national or international news stories available for publication.

Going into an interview or sitting in a newsroom without a working knowledge of many of these terms can reflect poorly on you. For editorial teams that maintain a high level of quality, they will expect you to know these terms so you can enter the flow of work seamlessly. 

How a Summer Journalism Internship Benefits Your Career

Internships provide valuable experience that can jumpstart a career. If you have ever wanted to work as a reporter or be in the journalism industry, then these types of opportunities can be useful for helping you to get the hands-on experience that you need.

An internship can help you to get your foot in the door of a preferred employer. It might also help you to discover that working in this field actually isn’t the right move for you.

How Does a Journalism Internship Work?

A journalism internship is usually an unpaid position that provides you with skills and experience to find full-time employment in the future. It is an opportunity to learn within the working environments that may become part of your future career

If you can obtain an internship through your college or university, then it might provide credits toward your eventual degree. Some paid opportunities are also available.

Summer programs help you to stay productive during your break between classes. It can also communicate to the industry leaders that you’re taking the responsibilities of this career seriously.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Journalism Intern?

A journalism intern is often responsible for producing content. You will learn how to create articles or posts that match the tone and style of the publication.


That means you may get asked to conduct interviews, manage a social media account, or upload new articles to the company’s website. These tasks can be time-intensive, but it can also add a lot of experience to your resume. That’s why an internship often helps you to stand out from other applicants.

Depending on the genre of journalism you prefer, your summer internship might involve investigating stories, attending sporting events, or going to political rallies. Each area of this field has unique roles and responsibilities for you to learn. 

You can also find summer journalism internships available in foreign countries if you want to travel after classes are over. With so much happening in the world, like what is going on in Hong Kong, journalists are more important than they have ever been.

When Do I Need to Decide on a Summer Internship?

Most of the international summer internships get filled before the end of March each year. You’ll want to speak with your academic advisor about the options that could be available to you.

Many newspapers, magazines, and similar publications work with local institutions to get journalism students some experience. Your teachers or professors will often know what is available with this option.

You can also apply independently to a summer journalism internship. The publication will want to see examples of your work to consider your application.


Then you can decide if journalism is the exciting career option you always thought it would be.