words or less. Two or three sentences per paragraph
are about right, but it is perfectly acceptable to have
one-sentence paragraphs or even a one-word paragraph
that expresses a complete thought.
The components of a written article are as
follows: lead, bridge, body, and ending. Articles or
stories written by Navy photojournalists are called
"straight news" (sometimes referred to as hard news)
and features. The difference between the two types of
news is the degree of immediacy and the manner in
which each one is constructed.
A NEWS STORY is written so the most important
facts of an event or story are placed first and the less
important facts are placed in the order of diminishing
A FEATURE STORY, however, can have the
important facts inserted anywhere in the text,
depending on the desires of the writer.
Story Lead
The opening passage of an article is the lead. In
a news story, this passage contains the most important
facts. The lead may be a word, sentence, paragraph,
or two paragraphs. The manner in which the lead is
written, regardless of whether the article is news or
features, is often the determining factor as to whether
an individual will continue reading. Story leads are
written in two general styles: the summary lead and
the novelty lead.
1. SUMMARY LEADS. Summary leads are
used mostly for news articles. This type of lead
summarizes the important facts of a story and answers
the questions related to the five Ws and H. The
writer determines which of the facts is most important
to start the lead. An example of a summary lead is as
"A Ship's Serviceman headed off a major fire
aboard the USS Rickety yesterday by using a
washing machine as a fire pump."
The questions answered are as follows:
A Ship's Serviceman
Headed off a major fire
Aboard the USS Rickety
To prevent the fire from
By using a washing machine as
a fire pump
2. NOVELTY LEADS. Novelty leads differ
from summary leads in that they do not answer all of
the questions related to the important facts. Novelty
leads are used mostly for feature articles. They can
be further classified as picture, background, contrast,
question, shock, quotation, direct address, and freak.
a. Picture. This lead draws a vivid word
picture of the person or event in the story. For
example, "The drain hose of a washer running on the
spin-dry cycle became a fire hose in the hands of a
quick-thinking Ship's Serviceman."
b. Background. This type of lead is similar
to the picture lead, except it draws a vivid word
picture of the news setting, surroundings, or
circumstances. For example, "Deep inside a U.S.
Navy ship, a solitary Ship's Serviceman battled a pile
of burning clothes with the only means at hand--his
washing machine."
c. Contrast. The contrast lead compares two
opposite extremes to dramatize a story. For example,
"Two years ago, the crew of the USS Turnip went
without clean clothes for 3 weeks as the result of a
laundry fire. Yesterday, aboard the USS Rickety, a
resourceful Ship's Serviceman saved two hundred
shipmates from a similar fate."
d. Question. The question lead should
arouse the curiosity of the readers and make them
want to read on. For example, "When the fire
extinguisher does not work, how do you put out a
blaze in the laundry compartment?"
e. Shock. This consists of a blunt,
explosive statement designed to surprise the reader.
For example, "The fuse to a potential holocaust was
f. Quotation. This type of lead is a short
quote or remark. A quote lead should only be used
when it is so important or so remarkable that it

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