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Minnesota Sapphire Sells for Millions



The Star Tribune article, “Sapphire’s sale leaves Minnesotans in shock,? is about how the Minnesota Historical Society sold a 22.66 carat sapphire necklace that belonged to the wife of Minnesota industrialist, James J. Hill, for $3.064 million at a New York City auction.

The writer of this article had the challenge of writing a good lead. The writer chose to write a delayed lead because he started off with an anecdote that set the theme of the story. The lead said that historians can only speculate if the wife gasped when she first saw the necklace. The writer waited to say the important news of the sapphire selling for a record high at a New York City auction in the nut graph, which is in the second sentence. The delayed lead set the theme of the story because the writer moves from speculating if the wife was shocked when she received the necklace to saying how shocked the officials at the historical society were when the sapphire sold at the record high of $3.064 million.

The AP story, “Sapphire fetches big bucks for state Historical Society,? is also about the sapphire selling at a record high, and this writer also had the challenge of writing a good lead. This writer chose to write a summary news lead. This lead summarized the newsworthy information that a sapphire bought over a hundred years ago by the railroad magnate, James J. Hill, sold for $3 million for the Minnesota Historical Society. Since this was a summary lead, the writer didn’t need a nut graph so he or she just continued to tell more details about the sapphire, the auction, and its history.

In my opinion, I think the AP writer did a better job at writing an effective lead. This story is not a hard news story so the delayed lead that the Star Tribune writer chose could have been effective. However, I think his delayed lead was too obvious because it’s obvious that the historians can only speculate how the wife reacted when she got the necklace because no one really does know. Therefore, I liked the summary news lead in the AP story better because even though this is a soft news story and the lead could have been more interesting, it was at least effective in telling the newsworthy information.


Your assessment of the two articles is thorough and you are able to illustrate the significant contrast between them by focusing on the leads. The approach that the AP article took by writing a summary lead was indeed noteworthy and it still accomplishes the goal of providing the most telling information to the reader. You appear to have a good grasp of the material and your exstensive illustration of how each author approached the issue of the shocking sell of a sapphire necklace is key. Although, since this isn't a hard news story doesn't it seem fitting that an anecdotal lead is applied to this story? In some cases it can be more interesting and worthwhile for the reader instead of the common scenario of offering the main points first. Your scope on both of these articles is interesting and I like that you decided to focus on the different leads that both articles took and the effect that it had on the entire story.