What is a Lede in Journalism?

Are you familiar with the term “lede” in journalism? If not, you are in the correct location. An introduction is a necessary component of journalistic writing, and it has an essential function in grabbing the reader’s interest. 

Similar to attempting to retain a balloon that has slid from your hand, if a reader loses interest in your introduction, they might not come back. In this blog post, we will examine what a lede is, its various types, and how to modify it efficiently.

Understanding Lead in Journalism

In journalism, a lede (or lead) is the opening section of a news report. The main goal is to attract the reader, urging them to keep reading the article. An effectively written introduction is crucial in capturing the attention of the readers and establishing the overall mood of the entire article.

As per Garner’s Modern English Usage, a lede can refer to either the first paragraph of an article or, less frequently, the leading news story in an issue. In this conversation, we will concentrate on the lede as the opening part of a news report intended to attract the reader’s attention.

Lead or Lede?

You might have observed two spellings—lead and lede—used interchangeably when talking about the opening section of a news item. The difference comes from the historical background of the printing business.

In the 1970s, when linotype machines were often used, it was difficult to differentiate between the lead paragraph in a news report and the thin strip of metal that separated lines of type. To clear up this misconception, the term “lede” was created.

Categories of Openings in Journalism

Reporters use many kinds of introductions based on the subject, readership, and narrative style. Let’s examine four typical forms of introductions:

1. The Introduction

The introductory paragraph quickly provides the reader with the necessary information in the first sentence. This kind of introduction is frequently employed in complex news articles, where prompt communication of important information is essential. 

Articles that provide introductory summaries usually adhere to the inverted pyramid pattern, where the most crucial information is provided at the start, followed by more specific details and background information.

As an illustration:

“A tornado in the early hours of Tuesday destroyed several homes in the vicinity of Second Street and caused power outages for many others.”

2. The Main Introduction

Unlike the summary introduction, the feature introduction takes a more storytelling style. It establishes the context, appeals to the reader’s feelings, and gradually introduces the central idea of the essay. 

Feature introductions are often seen in creative journalism or soft news articles that seek to captivate readers emotionally.

For example:

“It appeared to be an ordinary Tuesday, but nobody could have anticipated the events that would unfold in the early hours of the morning.”

3. The Opening Question

Specific articles begin by posing a question, which is subsequently addressed in the main content of the piece. Although this method can spark readers’ interest, it can also be challenging to implement successfully. 

The question in the introduction should be easily understood but also intriguing enough to capture the reader’s attention without producing any misunderstandings.

As an illustration:

“Monday evening appeared to be an ordinary night, but where were you during the early hours of the morning when a calamity occurred?”

4. The Opening Quote

A quote begins with a compelling quote that enhances the appeal and substance of the story. This method can give credibility to the article, arouse feelings, or generate a feeling of tension or unexpectedness.

Here’s a demonstration:

“‘It was the most severe catastrophe we have witnessed in years,’ stated the mayor in an interview following Tuesday’s tornado.”

Improving an Opening

As a self-employed editor, you can work together with journalists and journalistic organizations to enhance and enhance their introductions. Here are some essential factors to consider when working on ledes:

1. Employ the Five W’s and One H

Reporters frequently use the “five W’s and one H” structure to guarantee their reports are comprehensive. These questions assist in obtaining a thorough comprehension of the story:

  • What occurred?
  • What caused it?
  • Who was responsible for it?
  • When did it occur?
  • Where did it occur?
  • What caused it?

Especially in an introductory paragraph, make sure it addresses these points to establish a solid basis for the essay.

2. Maintain brevity and simplicity

Value the reader’s time and attention by making sure the introduction is brief and straightforward, regardless of the sort of introduction. Avoid excessive information and only include what is necessary for comprehending the narrative. 

If a reader has to reread the first sentence to get its meaning, it could suggest that the writing is not very good.

3. Utilize the Active Voice

Attract readers to the story by making it relatable and interesting. Generate a feeling of immediacy or intrigue to motivate people to keep reading.

Speak directly to the reader, if it is suitable, and utilize the active voice to create a connection with the story.

4. Steer clear of overused phrases, wordplay, and specialized terminology

Although humor can be helpful, it’s essential to make sure that it improves rather than takes away from the reader’s experience. 

Avoid overused expressions, wordplay, and specialized language that could distance or irritate the reader. Aim for precise and efficient writing in your introduction.

5. Take the Situation into Account

When your readers already know about the subject you’re discussing, it’s essential to be concise. Create an introduction that not only provides information to the reader but also captures their attention in delving deeper into the content. 

Offer helpful information that sparks their interest and motivates them to keep reading.

Becoming an Editor

If you want to become a skilled editor, it’s essential to understand several forms of writing, such as journalistic writing. 

Think about looking into classes and resources that concentrate on editing different types of content, ranging from business and academic writing to artistic works. These courses will provide you with the abilities and understanding required to succeed in your editing profession.


To summarize, a lede in journalism acts as the entrance to a news item, grabbing the reader’s interest and establishing the mood for the article. Comprehending the many kinds of introductions and how to improve them is essential for both writers and editors. 

By adhering to these rules and criteria, you may produce and modify impactful introductions that captivate readers and enhance the persuasiveness of your journalistic writing.

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