SMALLVILLE STORY FOUR SUSPECTS
Write a news story of between 475 and 500 words. As you organize and write, ask yourself what is the most significant news? A police officer was shot and is in critical condition. This alone is major news that undoubtedly would draw national coverage. Obviously, it is almost unheard of for cops to intentionally one of their own. But there is also other quite significant news to report.
A substantial quantity of drugs was confiscated, a potential link to a major drug trafficking organization was uncovered, store employees were threatened with a gun and assaulted, stolen goods were recovered, and one of the suspects is a cop. Clearly all of this can’t be accommodated in the lead, but some it can. An essential task is to decide what to incorporate into your 35-word lead.
The bulk of the information is the police version. It is authoritative information, but it needs to be carefully attributed.
Be aware that the suspects are not guilty at this point, just booked on suspicion of a variety of crimes. The next step would be for prosecutors to decide what crimes, if any, they should be formally charged with.
Don’t allow your writing to be influenced by how the information is organized in the press release. It’s not in media format. Rather it’s presented in the dry, bureaucratic fashion police favor.
Don’t start with the day and place. Don’t use the women’s or man’s names in the lead. Identify them by name later.
Those arrested made some serious allegations of their own, and you have response of sorts from a cop.
Also note that some information is missing, such as the nature of the injuries the suspects sustained when they were arrested. It’s a good practice to make clear not only what’s known, but what is not known, too.