Thursday, June 9, 2011

Don’t bury the lead

“Don’t bury the lead” is a rule of journalism. The lead is the most important point of a news story. To “bury the lead” is to place less-important facts above the lead.

The rule also applies to forms of communication other than journalism; for example, press releases and direct-response advertisements.

Here’s an example of a buried lead, as pointed out by veteran news editor Rafe Needleman:


Subject: Everyone loves a good pitch in the morning


Who am I kidding, no one truly enjoys reading a press release; much less being bombarded by them hourly. If you don’t mind hearing mine, then keep reading… and if you don’t, then feel free to click the shiny red X or red circle at the top of the page anytime.

[Our company] is releasing a new service called…

The Takeaway: Be careful not to bury the lead when you’re writing a news story, press release, or advertisement. Include the lead in your first paragraph – ideally in your first sentence. While editing the piece, check once more to make sure that you have not buried the lead.

See disclaimer.

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