Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Keeping it tight

When you put a softer lede on a harder news story, there are two truisms:
-- Every word must do work.
-- Don't delay the punch line for the reader any longer than necessary.

This lede has some problems in that:

No bones about it, launching a new school is tough.
Hiring staff. Readying classrooms. Writing policies and handbooks. The list seems endless.
But one question lingers: Will they come?
Students are lining up for a new Richland 1 charter school set to launch in August. Organizer Stacie Mandrell says enrollment for the Carolina School for Inquiry is on track to meet the school'’s second-year enrollment goal of 108 -- in its first year.


I'd suggest some quick scalpel work:

No bones about it, l Launching a new school is tough.
Hiring staff. Readying classrooms. Writing policies and handbooks. The list seems endless.
But one question lingers: W will they students come?
Apparently so, because students are they're lining up for a new Richland 1 charter school set to launch in August. Organizer Stacie Mandrell says enrollment for the Carolina School for Inquiry is on track to meet the school'’s second-year enrollment goal of 108 -- in its first year.

The first one, as I count it, is 72 words long; the second is 61. There is almost no rewriting, just simply making sure every word moves the story forward.

The argument can be made that the first three grafs of the original could be stripped and just start with "Students are lining up ..." I don't think every story has to start with that hard news approach., but if you're going to try to soften it, do it quickly and efficiently.

What do you think?

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