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Perfecting a proper nut graf

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by spud, Jul 18, 2009.

  1. spud

    spud Member

    I may very well be alone here, but I'm struggling with the stagnation of my nut grafs. They're okay, and my ledes are really thriving, but I hit a block when it gets to the expository section of my article between the guts and the intro. I've gotten really loose with this part of my articles and I feel that if I did a better job with it I'd have a better entree into the nuts and bolts of what I'm really trying to say. The real meat of the story would be enhanced by the connective tissue between the entry-point and the substantive bulk, if that makes any sense.

    Let me do this now.

    In the above AP story opener, which I think is fantastic, the bold piece (I'd say) serves as a reasonable nut graf, considering that most reading this story already know the principals and likely already know the outcome. Its understated but informative, linking but not ostentatious, flows but doesn't stand out. I don't say this to praise this particular story per se but to point out what I'd like to do more. Unfortunately it's not as easy as reading a well-written AP piece and simply "doing it." Not for me anyway.

    How do you approach your nut grafs, your entry-points into the story? On minor features in particular I'm becoming way too formulaic and I'd love to read up on some new approaches.
  2. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Tell me in 25 words or so why I should give a shit about the rest of this. Or any of our readers should give a shit. And do it quickly. I don't have time to waste on crap stories. If you are much deeper than 4-5 paragraphs and I don't know where you're going, I'm not going to take the time to find out.

    That was kind of my message.

    What you bolded doesn't seem like a nut graph to me. It's great detail, sure. To me, the single line three paragraphs above works. That's why I'm reading. To learn about the shockers in this ancient tournament. Backed up with a quote from each of the participants.
    Then we get the detail, which you bolded.
  3. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    Spud: We have different definitions of "nut graf."

    To me a nut graf is an explainer, say something about what a "mill rate" actually is.

    Example: You're rewriting an AP story about a local kid who had a homer, a double and three RBI in a Major League baseball game.

    MacDonald, who played at East Lyme High School, has been with the Blue Jays for three years and is in his 11th season in the majors.

    That explains why you're doing the story.

    HS football playoff points merit a nut graf.
  4. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    There are lots of nut grafs on the Politics board.
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