Hard news VS soft news PDF

Lesson Plan: Writing Ledes For News Stories
September 28, 2015 – 11:40 am
Full version here (PDF)

Skills: Identifying components of a news story, evaluating stories for newsworthiness and news angles, news writing.


  • Copies of two news articles: one with a “soft” news lede and one with a “hard” news lede (I used an article about the Oscars with and an article about public transit problems in New England with a ).
  • Copies of the “s.”

    Part One: Review the main components of a news story (who, what, where, when, why and how). Distribute the news article with the soft lede and have students identify the who, what, where, when, why and how of the story by underlining it in the story or making notes in the margin.

    Make a chart on the whiteboard so students can discuss the correct answer for the story. Then ask they to note how far into the story each component is revealed to the reader.

    Screen Shot 2015 02 25 at 8.35.13 AM Lesson Plan: Writing Ledes For News Stories

    Repeat with the story that has a hard news lede. As the students discuss the correct answers, make sure they note that most, if not all, components are revealed in the lede.

    Discuss the purpose of a hard news lede and when it is used. If time allows, you can have the students re-write the lede for the first news story, making it a hard news lede.

    Part Two: Have students watch “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, ” telling them they should take notes as if they were conducting a jailhouse interview with the wolf.

    Once again, have students discuss the components of the story. They will first have to determine what the story is and why it is newsworthy and then identify the key components.

    Working individually or in pairs, students should compose a hard news lede for their story on their interview with the wolf.

    Part Three: If time allows, students can continue to practice writing ledes. They can work on a draft lede for a story they are working on for class or they can watch another video and repeat the exercise in part two.

    End of Class: Distribute and briefly discuss the “Writing Leads!” handout so students can reference the key points of a good lede.

    Evaluation: Good hard news ledes will:

  • Be written in active voice
  • Organize information from most important to least important
  • Source: davecopeland.com
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