Ledes and News Hooks

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.  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 Sarjevo 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.