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The Development of Lead Sentences in News Reporting

September 06, 2013 |  

(Minghui.org) We learn from Falun Dafa that everything in our human world has its origin and significance.

Master said,

“What I'm telling all of you is that many things in human society are not simple, either. You know that in today's society there are truly a dazzling array of different professions. It seems that this modern society is quite prosperous and has anything and everything. Why is that so? Why wasn't it like this in ancient societies? It is because, as I said earlier, many lives from distant cosmic bodies brought their things here to the human world.” (“Teaching the Fa in San Francisco, 2005”)

What about the development of lead sentences in news reporting?

The first generation news lead was born in 1844 after telegraph usage took off. Limited by technology, frontline reporters had to summarize reports in the first paragraph. The goal was to get the message across even if the rest of the report failed to be delivered.

The first generation news lead was called a “summary lead” or “six-element lead.” The six elements were: Who, What, When, Where, Why. and How. Summarizing the information in six elements, the lead itself could be treated as a brief report. Sometimes, there was too much information and the report lacked definitive statements.

The second generation news lead was comprised of a selection of main elements from the original six.

Today, the third generation news lead stresses one outstanding element, which could be one of the six or other important information. The modern news lead focuses on the impact of the report. Many reporters clearly point out that the most valuable and attractive facts should be placed in the lead. The lead is not only a sentence, but also a statement with emphasis.

A vital function of the lead is to give readers a reason to continue. The news lead should give readers a surprise, attract them like a magnet, and be intriguing enough for them to read the whole story while inspiring them to think.

William Randolph Hearst, the American newspaper magnate, said, “If you don't hit the reader between the eyes in the first sentence of your news column, there's no need to write any more.”

Master said, “If something were not quite right for human society, it surely wouldn't be adopted widely.” (“Fa Teaching at the 2009 Greater New York International Fa Conference”)

Master also said:

“But Master just told you that whatever you do, you should do well. And furthermore, what you are now doing is apt to be left for the culture of the future.” (“Fa Teaching Given at the NTDTV Meeting”)

Following Master's teaching, I understand that we should take advantage of this technique and wisdom to save as many sentient beings as possible. More detailed information about the news lead can be found on the Internet.

Some fellow practitioners are concerned that this represents some components of Communist Party propaganda. As a matter of fact, the Communist Party simply used the technique itself,in its propaganda and persecution of Falun Gong. This technique doesn't belong to the Party.

Master wrote,

“The Party imbues people with lies at will
Its motives are plenty clear
Its operational systems thorough and honed” (“What Is Chinese Civilization” from Hong Yin III)

I understand that we need to study every step of the writing process carefully, “thorough and honed,” in order to make the best use of this technique. In order to offer salvation to more sentient beings, we have to improve our news reporting skills.