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Mar 8 / King Kaufman

Leads: Advice from a pro on what works and what to avoid

Joe Gisondi, a journalism professor and former longtime sportswriter and copy editor, has a good post about leads at Indiana University’s National Sports Journalism Center.

“Elements of lead writing worth emulating and common pitfalls to avoid”—OK, Joe, we need to talk about headlines—reviews several leads that illustrate solid lead-writing principles, and then, much more usefully for Bleacher Report writers, lists six pitfalls to avoid.

He’s mostly talking about gamers here, something B/R writers don’t spend much time on. None of the leads he cites struck me as particularly compelling, though all of them do avoid his six pitfalls, which are:

  1. Don’t generalize.
  2. Avoid lengthy introductory clauses in the opening sentence.
  3. Don’t rely on clichés in leads (unless you plan to tweak or revise them).
  4. Avoid ‘hope’ and ‘look to.’
  5. Don’t focus on team records in leads.
  6. Don’t lead with background information.

If you’ve been paying attention around here, Nos. 1 and 6 should look familiar to you.

  • Nick Kostora

    Those tips are certainly helpful, but the fact that there is a national sports journalism center is simply awesome.