The Pioneer Press reported an article today about the details and design of the new 35-W bridge. The lead was as follows:
When the design of the new Interstate 35W bridge was unveiled, many debated its aesthetic merits — was it beautiful enough?
The two major news elemens that stand out in this lead is impact and timeliness. When the 35-W bridge collapse happened in August 2007, there were few local Minneapolis-St. Paul residents who weren't impacted in some direct or in-direct way. Whether it was because their usual commute was much more delayed, or because they knew someone who was driving on the bridge at the time of the collapse, most people have some connection with the bridge that makes this lead have impact. Also, these lead catches the interest of readers because of its timing. The new bridge is rumored to open as soon as Tuesday, so a lead that includes anything about the new bridge will keep a reader's attention.
The lead is detailed in that the reader knows that the story will contain some degree of information the the design of the new 35-W bridge. It remains general in that the reader does not yet know the answer to the question that is posed in the lead. The article could go on to give positive feedback on the design, or it could include harsh criticism from expert critics. The structure of this lead is not a hard-news lead, because it is not giving straight-forward information. The reporter may have chosen this structure to enable the story to stand out from all of the other 35-W stories that are out right now.