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Analysis: Lead in a local homicide story

The three men who gunned down Jeffery Lamont Logan during a botched robbery in St. Paul early Saturday could have just asked for the money.

Logan, 44, who had stepped up to defend his cousin when the trio accosted them, would have handed it over not out of fear, but from the goodness of his heart, his brother said Saturday. (Star Tribune 31 Jan. 2009)

This lead clearly identified the people in the story, including Logan, the man who was killed, and the three robbers who seem to be have been his killers. It says exactly what happened (a homicide); it contains the time and place of the incident, and a potential reason for the incident (the man tried to defend his cousin in a robbery). So, it does accomplish the usual tasks of a hard news lead: who, what, where, when, why. By naming the man, and adding the extra insight about his personally, the lead tells the reader that there is more to the story than just a local homicide.

The story discusses the facts of the homicide, but also provides a look into the life and personality of the homicide victim. Most of the information is provided by the man's brother. The lead prepares the reader for both of these elements, by both explaining the action of the event, and describing the behavior of the victim from a view of (perhaps admirable) personal qualities, and hinting at the picture that will be painted of the life of the man who is the subject of the article.