Maggiecrowley's Blog


NewsU Lead Lab

Posted in Topic of the Week by Maggie on June 10, 2010

Check out this link to a class I took online!

http://www.newsu.org/courses/lead-lab

As an assignment for class, I was asked to take a class via Poynter’s News University. The class, titled, The Lead Lab, helps writers and journalists, at any level, improve the leads of the stories they’re writing. The class took about an hour to complete and allowed students to refresh the basics of lead writing, read leads written by others, and improve leads submitted to the program.  Although I had my doubts when I began the class,  it actually turned out to be pretty helpful!

In the class, I learned several important things worth noting. For one, in the lab, there is an item that can be clicked to reveal the myths of lead writing. One myth I found especially helpful is that a lead should never be more than 3-4 lines long. Growing up, we are taught that leads are short, sweet, and to the point. Another lead myth that is mentioned is the fact that leads should summarize the entire story. If this is true, then why do we need to read the entire story?

Altogether, I was surprised at how helpful and timely this online course turned out to be. Students can really benefit from the course because of the unlimited amount of practice and information available. Unfortunately, when I think of classes like this one, I instantly assume that is it busy work that the instructor has assigned. The Lead Lab was a great surprise in that I found it very helpful.

What do I want to know more about? The first idea that comes to mind is that I need more practice to improve my leads even more. The good thing about that is that I now know one resource that I can use over and over from now on! In order for journalists and writers to become successful we need to be good at our job. There are hundreds of writers out there, and the competition is tough. For writers to succeed we need to continue learning and improving our skills. Kudos to the NewsU Lead Lab for helping me do just that!

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