Ledes and News Hooks

… a core concept in Communication Skills and Atlas 109

HooksConcept description

A lede is what sets the scene and grabs your reader’s attention – it is your introduction; a news hook is what makes your piece timely, and often is part of the lede.

The Op-Ed Project advises that a lede should be bold, but incontrovertible. Tell an anecdote, if it illustrates your point.  Use humor, if appropriate. Use clean sentences.

A few possibilities (from real op-eds)

Use the news: This Wednesday evening Frances Newton, 40, will be put to death for the murders of her husband and two children 18 years ago…

Tell a dramatic anecdote: Ten years ago, I asked Bosnian civilians under siege in Sarajevo where they would go if they could escape…

Reference popular culture: The marketing campaign shows real women, rather than anorectic teenagers, in white bras and panties posing next to the slogan “New Dove Firming. As tested on real curves”…

Turn conventional wisdom on end: Sex and the City’s main characters are witty, glamorous, independent and sexually liberated – in short, who wouldn’t want to be them? Me, for one.

Use wit and irony to point out a contradiction: So now we know what “noble cause” Cindy Sheehan’s son died for in Iraq: Sharia. It’s a good thing W stands for women, or I’d be worried.

Use an anniversary: Fifty years after the Supreme Court banned school segregation, the battle over the racial composition of America’ s schools continues in courtrooms across the country.

Cite a major new study: According to a new nation-wide poll, 60% of women have cheated on their husbands at least once.

Get personal: College admissions officers around the country will be reading my applications this month, essays in which I describe personal aspirations, academic goals — even, in one case, a budding passion for the sitar. What they won’t know is that I actually graduated from college more than a year ago, and that the names attached to these essays are those of my duplicitous clients.


Copied with reformatting from The Op-Ed Project, at http://www.theopedproject.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=69&Itemid=81, accessed 25 January 2016.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last updated 25 January 2016.

Image: Abby Fitzgerald, Everything you need to know about WordPress hooks, at https://getflywheel.com/layout/wordpress-hooks/, accessed 25 January 2016.