October 28, 2019 MRWG


October 28th – McKenzie River Writing and Humanities Club (MRWH)


Go over homework assignment:

Expand your 6 Word Story. 


Write a scene:

  • Decide what point of view to use
  • Create your characters
  • Give them conflict

Create a setting 


Ten minutes to write: 


What was your 6 word story? 


Explain the critiquing process


Share five minutes of your writing. 

Podcast/Monthly Newspaper

Let’s learn some Journalism



Rules for Writing Journalism


  1. Generally speaking, the lede, or introduction to the story, should be a single sentence of 35 to 45 words that summarizes the main points of the story, not a seven-sentence monstrosity that looks like it’s out of a Jane Austen novel.


What is a lede? A lede is the first paragraph of any news story. Many would say that it’s also the most important part, as it introduces what is to come. A good lede must accomplish three specific things:

  • Give readers the main points of the story
  • Get readers interested in reading the story
  • Accomplish both of these in as few words as possible

Typically, editors want ledes to be no longer than 35 to 40 words. Why so short? Well, readers want their news delivered quickly, and a short lede does just that.

What Goes in a Lede?

For news stories, journalists use the inverted pyramid format, which means starting with the “five W’s and H:” who, what, where, when, why, and how.

  • Who: Who is the story about?
  • What: What happened in the story?
  • Where: Where did the event you’re writing about occur?
  • When: When did it occur?
  • Why: Why did this happen?
  • How: How did this happen?

Lede Examples

Now that you understand the basics of a lede, see them in action with these examples.

Lede Example 1

Let’s say you’re writing a story about a man who was injured when he fell off a ladder. Here are your “five W’s and H:”

  • Who: the man
  • What: He fell off a ladder while painting.
  • Where: at his house
  • When: yesterday
  • Why: The ladder was rickety.
  • How: The rickety ladder broke.

So your lede might go something like this:

“A man was injured yesterday after falling from a rickety ladder which collapsed as he was painting his home.”

This sums up the main points of the story in just 19 words, which is all you need for a good lede.

Lede Example 2

Now you’re writing a story about a house fire in which three people suffered smoke inhalation. Here are your “five W’s and H:”

  • Who: three people
  • What: They suffered smoke inhalation in a house fire and were hospitalized.
  • Where: at their house
  • When: yesterday
  • Why: A man fell asleep while smoking in bed.
  • How: The cigarette ignited the man’s mattress.

Here’s how this lede might go:

“Three people were hospitalized for smoke inhalation yesterday from a house fire. Officials say the fire was ignited when a man in the home fell asleep while smoking in bed.”

This lede clocks in at 30 words. It’s a little longer than the last one, but still short and to the point.

Lede Example 3

Here’s something a bit more complicated—this is a story about a hostage situation. Here are your “five W’s and H:”

  • Who: six people, one gunman
  • What: The gunman held six people hostage in a restaurant for two hours before surrendering to police.
  • Where: Billy Bob’s Barbecue Joint
  • When: last night
  • Why: The gunman tried robbing the restaurant but police arrived before he could escape.
  • How: He ordered the six people into the kitchen.

Here’s how this lede might go:

“A failed robbery of Billy Bob’s Barbeque last evening resulted in six being held hostage as police surrounded the building. The suspect surrendered without incident following a two-hour standoff.”

This lede is 29 words, which is impressive for a story that has a bit more complexity to it.

Lede Exercise 1

  • Who: Barrett Bradley, the president of Centerville College
  • What: He announced tuition will be raised 5%.
  • Where: at a gathering in the college’s amphitheater
  • When: yesterday
  • Why: The college is facing a $3 million deficit.
  • How: He will ask the college’s board of trustees to approve the tuition hike.

Lede Exercise 2

  • Who: Melvin Washington, point guard for the Centerville High School basketball team
  • What: He scored a record 48 points to lead the team to the state championship over the rival team from Roosevelt High School.
  • Where: in the school’s gymnasium
  • When: last night
  • Why: Washington is a gifted athlete who observers say has an NBA career ahead of him.
  • How: He is a remarkably precise shooter who excels at making three-pointers.


Lede Exercise 3

  • Who: Centerville Mayor Ed Johnson
  • What: He held a press conference announcing he has a drinking problem and is stepping down from his post.
  • Where: in his office at City Hall
  • When: today
  • Why: Johnson says he is entering rehab to deal with his alcoholism and he apologizes for thinking putting roller skates on Jean Haeger’s llamas was ever a good idea.
  • How: He will step down and deputy mayor Helen Peterson will take over and the city will pay for all damages to the llamas.





  1. The lede should summarize the story from start to finish. So if you’re writing about a fire that destroyed a building and left 18 people homeless, that must be in the lede. Writing something like “A fire started in a building last night” doesn’t have enough vital information.


  1. Paragraphs in news stories should generally be no more than one or two sentences each, not the seven or eight sentences you probably wrote for freshman English. Short paragraphs are easier to cut when editors are working on a tight deadline, and they look less imposing on the page.



  1. Sentences should be kept relatively short, and whenever possible use the subject-verb-object formula. Backward constructions are harder to read.


  1. Always cut unnecessary words. For example, “Firefighters arrived at the blaze and were able to put it out within about 30 minutes” can be shortened to “Firefighters doused the blaze in 30 minutes.”


  1. Don’t use complicated-sounding words when simpler ones will do. A laceration is a cut; a contusion is a bruise; an abrasion is a scrape. A news story should be understandable to everyone.


  1. Don’t use the first-person “I” in news stories. 


  1. In Associated Press style, punctuation almost always goes inside quotation marks. Example: “We arrested the suspect,” Detective John Jones said. (Note the placement of the comma.)


  1. News stories are generally written in the past tense.


  1. Avoid the use of too many adjectives. There’s no need to write “the white-hot blaze” or “the brutal murder.” We know fire is hot and that killing someone is generally pretty brutal. Those adjectives are unnecessary.


  1. Don’t use phrases such as “thankfully, everyone escaped the fire unhurt.” Obviously, it’s good that people weren’t hurt. Your readers can figure that out for themselves.


  1. Never inject your opinions into a hard-news story. Save your thoughts for a review or editorial.


  1. When you first refer to someone in a story, use the full name and job title if applicable. On all subsequent references, use just the last name. So it would be “Lt. Jane Jones” when you first mention her in your story, but after that, it would simply be “Jones.” The only exception is if two people with the same last name are in your story, in which case you could use their full names. Reporters generally don’t use honorifics such as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” in AP style. (A notable exception is The New York Times.)


  1. Don’t repeat information.


  1. Don’t summarize the story at the end by repeating what’s already been said. Try to find information for the conclusion that advances the story. 


Writing Exercise:





Projects – 



What events are coming up that we can cover?



Social Media – Facebook and Instagram


Choose One:

Radio Theater

Monthly Paper

Short Movie