How to focus on the people in every story

The lead of a story makes a promise to the reader of good things to come.

The classic journalism device of asking five W's (who, what, where, when, why), an H (how) and an SW (so what) helps you analyze, organize and present the beginning of a news story.

Let's start with "who" to discover the newsworthy elements of your story.

News is the record of human activity, what people say and do. Focus on the people in every story. Ask yourself:

  • Who’s involved?
  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • Who are the major players?
  • Who is closest to the action?
  • Who supports the issue? Opposes it?
  • Who is affected?
  • Who typifies the situation?
  • Who are the most knowledgeable sources?

Taken from The Lead Lab, a self-directed course by Chip Scanlan at Poynter NewsU.

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    Vicki Krueger

    Vicki Krueger has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 20 years in roles from editor to director of interactive learning and her current position as marketing communications manager.


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