Analysis: The lead in an article on a swine flu vaccination

| 1 Comment
Donald McNeil Jr., a reporter for the New York Times wrote a short and clear hard-news lead for his Friday article on the swine flu vaccination.

"More than three million doses of swine flu vaccine will be available by the first week of October, a little earlier than had been anticipated, federal health officials announced Friday," McNeil wrote.

This lead quickly reports most of the main who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. The who answer provided directs readers' attention to health officials. The what answer involves the availability of the recently-found swine flu vaccination. The inclusion of "Friday" describes when the announcement was made.

This lead does not include where the vaccination will be available, and how or why it is available. The lead remains vague on when and where the vaccinations will be available because this information may not yet be set.

Readers are expected to understand why information about a vaccination for the swine flu is important because it is a dominant topic in the media. Readers are not expected to understand how health officials found the vaccination because it is a complex scientific process.

McNeil does specify the amount of doses available because this information is important for the American public. Three million doses are available. However, the United States has a population of 304 million.

1 Comment

You are doing good work. Remember that the purpose of a lead is to tell the whole story, generally enough to do that yet specifically enough so that the reader can comfortably move on and not be lost. It's a balancing act. The information missing from that lead is best put in the lower paragraphs. The lead does, indeed, tell the whole story without telling too much.

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This page contains a single entry by leex3236 published on September 19, 2009 2:24 PM.

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