How to Communicate the Future of the News?

As we are in the midst of writing our news features, I thought it would be good to examine and compare the techniques/ lay-outs used by writers for an Ann Magazine article and a NYTimes article

 Look at the ledes for each article. While the Ann Magazine article starts with a scene, the NYTimes starts with a quick statement and quickly leads into the story. Which lede do you think is more effective? Should different types of ledes be used for different purposes?

 Look back to the Ann Magazine. There are a few interesting characteristics about this article. First, in the third paragraph, the writer asks several questions. Do you think that is an effective way to transition through a topic in the article?  Second, look at the pictures spread throughout the article. Do the photographs stir sentimental effects?

 Lastly, the Ann Magazine article uses subtitles within the article, while the NyTimes does not. What purpose do the subtitles play? Do they help you read the article or take away from its flow? 

Feel free to comment on any other interesting features within these two articles! 


About emjaffe

Student at the University of Michigan. Passionate about environmental and urban public policy and planning.

6 Responses to “How to Communicate the Future of the News?”

  1. Although both are very valid and typical ledes for an article, I believe the scene in The Ann is better at pulling the reader into the article, by painting a picture many are familiar with, and comparing it to something many would not think off–an archaeological dig. The NY Times piece attempts to use a clique as a hook, which I do not think is as effective for getting me interested in the article. The Ann appeals to reader’s sense of nostalgia, which I think is an effective method for gaining readership. As for the third paragraph questions, I love questioning in articles. I think by asking questions, the author can say a lot more than they could by simply stating facts, figures, quotes, and opinions. Effective questioning can get a reader to really think about the topics and engage the content–and pick a side (if the article is presenting one).
    Do other people like questioning in articles? What about the breakdown of The Ann, with the different subheadings chronicling the fall of the printed news? Does it make the piece easier to read? It is a rather long article, so do the subheadings help you pick and choose what you decide to read or focus on? Do the pictures make you more interested in reading the article?

  2. For this topic, I think the delayed lede in the Ann story is more effective. I think that more direct ledes, that move to the nutgraph immediately, should be reserved for hard news stories and breaking news. With a trend piece or a human interest piece, I think doing a delayed lede that includes interesting language or an engaging scene is the best route. But I would never open a hard news piece about a really significant event like a bombing or a shooting or a public health epidemic with a delayed lede; for those, I think it’s best to get right into the who, what, where, when, and why should people care (AKA the nutgraph). Regarding questions in a news story, I have to disagree with Katie. I think it’s a convention that’s trying to heighten the reader’s interest in a really obvious way. I think that if something interesting is happening, the writer should just say what is happening and that should be enough to effect the reader. Also, particular to the Ann article, the language in the question paragraph seems a bit loaded and not entirely unbiased. I think reporters should be really careful of this. I really like the first and last photo in the story. I must say as a side note, I wish that online sources used cutlines to describe the photos like print media does. I am very pro-subtitles in articles and even in other papers as well!! I think it really helps show the multiple dimensions of a piece. I don’t think they’re necessary but I think it really helps with a longer story, like the Ann piece.

  3. Really great questions! I agree with efigley’s idea about the delayed lede being appropriate for certain types of stories, and while I do prefer the treatment that the Ann gave the story, the New York Times treatment is still appropriate for this story. The halving of print newspapers is a trend, but to have so many major local papers announce all within the same time frame can be considered breaking news. On the topic of the Ann using questions to move to new points in the story, asking questions is a simple and effective tool to bring the reader actively into the story. And the choice of questions here was well thought out and definitely led to the active participation asking questions can bring in the best cases – the article alludes to the emotional heart of the story, that is, the withering print and journalism industry, and then drops a bomb on the reader. Where will I get my news? How can I trust these new sources? Will they even provide the stories that I think matter? The questions make the reader feel emotionally invested in the resolution of the story, and perhaps will stir them to be more critical and supportive of the news they do receive. Moving on to subtitles, again, I agree with the opinions above. The Ann article is longer, and needs these subtitles to make the article more digestible. I’ve seen these subtitles on NYTimes pieces before, but in longer or more difficult stories. They’ve presented it in a way that doesn’t necessarily need them, but when a story does call for subtitles, they are absolutely a welcome addition.

  4. The Ann Magazine is a much more engaging platform for the reader. The organization holds the reader’s hand through use of sub-titles, pictures, and questions to engage and stimulate. This gives Ann Magazine a more casual, read for fun, internet atmosphere. The light grey, Ariel looking font with a modern looking logo and tabs give the website itself a trendy yet sophisticated appearance to entice the targeted crowd. In contrast, the Times normal black font, with informative leads, half a dozen quotes, and a single picture communicates a more “straight to the facts” approach. The Times seems much more informative, and newsy – rather than the blogger news layout that Ann Magazine has. This is perhaps a less engaging news platform, but also less of an editorial.

  5. For some reason the link to the Ann magazine article wasn’t working for me so I’ll use some context clues from others to compare the two and focus on the New York Times article. I really liked the format of the Times article. The lede is a short but concise set of words that grab attention and foreshadows what the entire article will be about. I think this kind of lede is very effective as it tells me what is going to be talked about in a catchy way. The article itself breaks into small digestible bits that are followed by quotes from important figures that give weight to what is being said. I’m not sure how I feel that the kicker is a quote though. I think the last sentence of the quote is very strong and leaves an impression on the reader, but perhaps something more could be said from the writer on the topic. How do people feel about articles ending with quotes instead of the writer’s own words. Going to the other article and its subtitles, I think that subtitles do have a place when an article covers a broad range of topics under a single issue. The subtitles can help create distinct sections for what an article wants to say when regular transitions may not be able to accomplish the same flow. They have their place and time though and can ruin good flow of writing in some cases.

  6. I really liked The Ann article better than the New York Times article. For me the selling point was the personal perspective taken by Cliff and the fact that he is present in the story, and in the city he is talking about. The New York Times piece just seems to jump all over, and I agree that starting with a cliche isn’t a good hook at all. In addition, while The Ann article provided us with insider comments, the New York Times article quoted presidents and vice presidents a lot, people who aren’t necessarily on the forefront of the dying newspaper issue. I think it’s also weird to end with a quote like the Times article did, The Ann really gave the topic a more contemplative and concerned treatment. I agree with Katie that the questions are good as well, they make the piece seem like it has a specific goal in mind and direct the rest of the article, as opposed to jumping around to the various interrelated, but not necessarily interesting, perspectives on the issue.

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