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Posts Tagged ‘writing leads’

Students learn journalism best if you teach them several different ways.

A colleague who’s starting her first journalism classes as an adjunct professor asked, “Any advice for the first-time professor?” I’ll answer here and in at least a couple more posts over the next week or so.

Update: I originally posted this before hearing back from the colleague about whether it was OK to use her name (since she asked the question in a private email). She quickly identified herself after I posted:

I’m teaching my 10th college class now and have learned a few things about teaching in the classroom (and in hundreds of workshops and seminars for professional journalists). But I recognize that many friends in journalism schools have far more classroom experience than I do. So I invite them (you, if you’re teaching journalism) to weigh in with some advice, too. Much of this applies as well to training your professional colleagues. For my colleague and other new journalism professors (and perhaps for veterans, who should always be learning, too).

I’ll start by addressing the wide variety of ways that students learn and how I gear my lessons and assignments to teach students in a multitude of ways. I believe students learn in at least these ways (several of which overlap): (more…)

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Readers give you just a few seconds to capture their interest before their eye moves on to the next story, photo or link. On any platform, in any format, you need a crisp lead and a strong focus to keep the reader going.

Keep a sharp focus

To write a strong lead, you need to identify and understand the focus of your story. Using any or all of these techniques before you even start writing can help strengthen your story, especially the critical top few paragraphs:

Ask what the story is about. As you gather information and as you write, ask yourself frequently why a reader would want to read it. Novelist Bruce DeSilva, formerly of the Associated Press, suggests asking these questions as you try to find the story’s focus: Why do you care about this? Why did you want to write this story in the first place? What touches you emotionally? Who is benefiting/being harmed, making money/losing money? How are readers being affected by what you have found? What is new here? When you know what the story is about, you know what you need to tell the reader at the top of the story. (more…)

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