chapter  10
33 Pages

Leads, Closes and that Big Lump in the Middle

ByMatthew Ricketson, Caroline Graham

The premium on capturing people’s attention has never been higher. Twitter has not only become a highly efficient way of spreading news but has become a brilliant vehicle for zinging one-liners that wittily encapsulate key insights about events or issues. The attacks destroyed New York’s World Trade Center buildings and it was critical, symbolically as well as economically, for stock markets to begin trading again as soon as possible. The sub-story lays out the immense practical obstacles faced by companies’ IT departments but also the wrenching task of ringing grieving family members to ask for clues to find their loved ones’ passwords. Describing a scene is the most novelistic way of drawing the reader in, which is why a descriptive lead can be engaging, and why it attracts feature writers with literary aspirations. Finishing a feature well is important, but again many journalists struggle with endings because they are superfluous in hard news.