Sunday, February 15, 2009

Feature Leads vs. Summary Leads

Summary leads summarizes in one sentence what the story is about. It includes some of the w's (what, where, when, who, why) but not all. Feature leads add description to set the scene and get readers to read the story. It also gives a quick preview of what's coming, or it displays the major point of the story.

I found an example of each lead courtesy of The Baltimore Sun.

Gang members turn themselves around

In this story, a narrative type of feature lead is being used. It set the stage for a story and describes an individual and his or her surroundings. This story did exactly that. "They know him as "Black," a convicted felon and longtime member of the Bloods street gang. He is leaning far back in a chair, under the only working light in a nondescript rowhouse in East Baltimore. He is talking about street life and hustling. And this group of more than 25 gang members and young men recently sprung from prison are hanging on his every word." The story focuses on Tony Wilson, aka Black, and his mission to change young people's lives.

Salmonella outbreak eases way for food safety reforms

A normal summary lead is used in this story. "The salmonella outbreak that has killed as many as nine people and sickened hundreds nationwide has created what advocates say is an unprecedented opportunity to reform the way America safeguards its food supply." It answered the what, where, and who, but not the why and when.

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