WRITING THE LEAD (LEDE)
The lede is one of the most important parts of a story. It causes viewers to listen and watch and it helps hold their attention.
The lede should give viewers the key take-away from the story and get them interested in watching. You can do this without giving away all of the details. The best lede’s tell viewers why it’s important to watch the story.
In some cases, news directors make a point of asking writers to say, “You can’t miss this.” Or, “Look at this.”
We don’t know exactly where the shorthand word lede comes from, but it’s used in most newsrooms. Here’s what the Mirriam Webster Dictionary has to say about the word.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN A LEDE
If it’s a hard news story you want to give the latest news and information.
You also want to add a little tension or an element of conflict that heightens the importance of the story.
It’s helpful to think about the lede first if you are a reporter writing a story. That’s the way to make sure there’s a seamless flow from the lede to your story.
Here’s an example:
An explosion tore through a building in East Harlem early this morning killing seven. Fire Department officials on the scene suspect a gas leak caused the blast. Rescuers combed the wreckage looking for survivors. Steve Loffredo is on the scene and says the strong odor of gas makes the search difficult.
STEVE’S STORY BEGINS:
Natsot: (sound of digging)
Firefighters and police officers teamed up to look for survivors. They wore gas masks, but still the overpowering smell of gas caused them to take frequent breaks.
It’s overwhelming and makes you nauseous. You can’t stay out there for more than fifteen minutes at a time. But we won’t quit yet.
A SPORTS LEDE
A sports lede is similar to a news lede. You give the viewer the most important information first and then draw them into the story with the promise of more information.
A FEATURE LEDE
When you write a lede for a feature or a lighter story, it’s likely the viewer is hearing about this for the first time. You have a little more leeway here.But again, you want to make the lede interesting or exciting enough for the viewer to continue to watch.
LEDES FOR TWO ANCHORS:
Producers often write ledes for two anchors. Essentially that means you split up the copy between them.
In some cases, you may have to write more because of production issues.
There are no hard and fast rules about this because news directors us different techniques and like different styles
Anchors also have different reading styles and it’s important to be sensitive to what they need to read smoothly from the prompter.
An umbrella lede includes a number of stories that usually connect in some way.
Cold weather put our area in the deep freeze. The frigid weather continues.
On the streets, sanitation workers struggle to keep up with snow removal and plowing.
And homeowners in some neighborhoods woke up this morning to find their cars buried under five feet of rock-solid snow.
Meterologist Stephanie Castro begins our team coverage with a weather update. Stephanie.