Boy, 15, charged with murder in killing of parents, 2 younger brothers in Baltimore suburb
By KASEY JONES , Associated Press
Last update: February 3, 2008 - 7:49 PM
COCKEYSVILLE, Md. - A 15-year-old boy fatally shot his parents and two younger brothers as they slept, then spent more than 12 hours with friends before returning home and calling 911 to report that his father was dead, police said Sunday...
A lead is a simple clear statement consisting of the first paragraph or two when using the inverted pyramid in a news story. Straigt-news leads are often made up of the six basic questions- who? what? when? where? why? how? (or so what?, and what's next?)
The lead used in this article by the Star Tribune is a immediate-identification lead. The most important information hits the eye first, in this case it is that a "15-year-old boy fatally shot his parents..." The first information revealed is who, followed by what. Since the boy is a teenager and it was his own parents he killed, it is important to what makes this story unique and news worthy. It highlights the novelty of the story. The lead is effective because it gets straight to the facts on why this story matters or 'so what?' It is a straight-news lead.
The lead answers who?,what?, when?, and how?
It answer's who? in a general way by using the boy's age as a descriptive tool. Since the boy is not well-known, his age causes more of an impact and interest.
What? is answered descriptively. "Fatally shot" gives the specifics of the murder. We know from the lead the boy did not just murder his parents; it tells us the way he killed his family.
The lead becomes even more specifics by continuing to give details of how he killed his family - while they were sleeping- and who he killed - his parents and two younger brothers. However, it does not give specifics on the names of the victim. The lead gives their relation to the boy instead. Again, this is because the fact it was his family creates more intrigue than their specific names would.
When? is answered specifically by when police released information - Sunday - and by when the boy reported the murder -after spending more than 12 hours with friends.
Where? and why? are not answered in the lead.
Where? is answered in the first sentence of the second paragraph. ("Police went to their suburban Baltimore home and later charged Nicholas Waggoner Browning after he admitted to the slayings, Baltimore County Police spokesman Bill Toohey said"). The information was deemed important but not necessary to the lead.
Why? is not answered until the fourth paragraph. ("The teen had not been getting along with his father, police said"). Since it was not answered until later in the story, the reporter made the decision that the why? was not as important to the story as the other factors were.