News Lead-writing

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Part 1

Using the information in Scenario 1, News Lead-writing Exercise1, write a summary news lead. Your lead may be no longer than 20 words and must be written in the active voice.

Tip: One letter grade will be subtracted for a 21-word lead. One letter grade also will be subtracted for a passive voice lead.

Part 2

Using the information in Scenario 2, News Lead-writing Exercise2, write a summary news lead. Your lead may be no longer than 20 words and must be written in the active voice.

Tip: One letter grade will be subtracted for a 21-word lead. One letter grade also will be subtracted for a passive voice lead.

Check every word you write against the Course AP Stylebook and use the Checklist for News Lead-Writing Exercises to help you polish your leads. Submit the completed worksheet with your assignment.

The News Lead Basics lecture in your Course Content contains detailed advice on how to write a news lead properly, as does your instructor’s feedback on yours and your classmates’ Try Its from Weeks 1 and 2. Please study all of those materials carefully before submitting your assignment.

Here are a few tips:

  • The assignment calls for you to write two news leads. Each should be 20 words or fewer, written in active voice and free of grammatical and spelling errors. Write only one sentence for each of the leads.
  • If you break any of the major rules, you will lose credit (one grade for each major rule broken). That means if you hand in a 21-word news lead, you lose a letter grade (-5%). If you hand in a lead written in passive voice, you will lose a grade. If you put a name in your lead, you will lose a grade. If you write a label lead, you will lose a grade. If you omit when the action occurred, you will lose a grade. If you make a factual error in your lead–even a tiny one or an accidental one–you will lose a letter grade for it. Please study and learn the information presented in our reading assignments and posts here in the classroom. Please also follow all assignment instructions.
  • Use Associated Press style. You will lose points for every style error, including grammar and mechanics mistakes.
  • If you would like to submit a draft for me to review before you hand in your final assignment, please upload it in the appropriate folder within the Workbook module to the left of your screen by noon on Thursday. Do not paste text into the message area of the Workbook folder. Drafts are optional but they can make a big difference in your final assignment grade! I will make suggestions and respond to you as soon as possible.
  • Make sure you complete BOTH news leads listed for this assignment.
  • Save your file according to the file-naming instructions in Getting Started and the syllabus
  • Post your finalized assignment to the Assignments area.
  • Compose your assignment in MS Word for PC and then upload it as a Rich Text-Formated (.rtf) attachment using the upload button below. (You may also complete your assignment as a doc. or docx. document but not as an .odt document). Do not paste text into the message area of the Assignment folder. Do not fax or email your assignments.
  • Assignments are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Sunday. Late assignments generally will not be accepted. The cutoff is midnight; that means assignments received at 12:00:01 a.m. Monday will be considered late.
  • Do you have questions about Story #1? Please post them in Ask the Professor! This way, your classmates can benefit from the questions and answers.

These two leads together are worth 10 percent of your final grade for JOUR 201. Here’s a checklist to help you complete the assignment well.

You will receive a grade of 0 if you:

  • Do not hand the assignment in.
  • Hand the assignment in late. It’s due at midnight EASTERN TIME on Sunday. Late is 12:00:01 a.m. Monday. Late papers generally will receive a grade of 0. 
  • Do the wrong assignment. You must follow the instructions listed here and/or in the Project Descriptions section of the syllabus. If you submit an assignment based on the wrong scenario, you will receive no credit, even if the writing is perfect. (Note that you must write two leads for this assignment.) 

You will lose one full letter grade for each major rule from Weeks 1 and 2 that your lead breaks. In other words, you will lose a full letter grade if your lead contains:

  • more than 20 words
  • more than one sentence
  • no reference to time, or if the time is the first word in the sentence
  • passive voice
  • a name
  • a factual error, even an accidental one or a small one
  • any form of the verb “to be” (i.e. is, was, were, be, been, are)
  • present tense
  • an incomplete sentence, or one that reads like a headline
  • your opinion
  • an adjective that conveys any value or opinion (like unfortunately)

You also will lose a full letter grade for:

  • a label lead
  • a lead that does not contain the story’s most important detail

You will lose credit for each:

  • grammatical error
  • AP style error
  • spelling error
  • typo
  • missing word
  • punctuation error
  • jargon
  • unnecessary word
  • long word instead of short word
  • redundancies
  • acronym (including UMUC. Spell them out.)
  • vague term or description. Write in specifics and write literally
  • obvious word (for example, if someone introduced legislation yesterday, it’s obviously new, so the word “new” is unnecessary to the sentence)

You will receive a grade of A if you write a lead that contains all of these:

  • one sentence only
  • 20 words or fewer
  • active voice
  • past tense
  • the story’s most important detail
  • the answer to the question: Who-did-what-when?–in that order
  • as many specific details as will fit
  • a complete sentence
  • breaks none of the rules given in Weeks 1 and 2.
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