About nut grafs

Scott Swafford is giving us an important lesson in developing nut grafs tomorrow (03-06). Please read this pdf before class to give you a head start. nutgraphs

See you then!

Jeanne Abbott

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33 Responses to About nut grafs

  1. Karee Hackel says:

    I think this is a very interesting story with an interesting nutgraf. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/dining/mindful-eating-as-food-for-thought.html

  2. Caitlin Swieca says:


    This NYT sports story takes a while to get to its nut graf, but I think it’s justified in this case. The first three paragraphs give context to a story that most readers are probably familiar with, and the fourth paragraph pretty clearly shows that the point of the story is to go beyond the current dominant image of Williams.

  3. Grace Lyden says:


    This is a tragic story about the liquor business in Whiteclay, Neb. which has done nothing but encourage a long history of alcohol-related deaths on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, one of the poorest places in the country.

    I would say the nut graf is the second paragraph and the first sentence of the third, which brings the reader’s attention to the lawsuit recently filed by the tribe.

  4. Nina Pantic says:


    The nut graf (second paragraph) does a really great job of setting up the article and using percentages to make a clear point right at the start. I think even the third paragraph is part of the nut graf since it goes a little further by talking about patterns in polling, which is also a critical point to the entire article.

  5. chrisroll13 says:

    I read this USA Today article about the new iPad . . . I got more from the headline than I did in the entire article up until the seventh paragraph. This one chases so many rabbits in so many different directions, I lost interest three paragraphs in. We already know Apple is in a tumultuous time after Steve Jobs’ death, we get that the iPad is facing some competition from Android and Kindle . . . now tell us what makes the new iPad special, darn it!


    The delayed nut graph was a real problem for me. Although it was peppy and fun, I had to trudge through a lot of boring stuff to find it. I did, however, like the article’s use of bold font to break up sections.

  6. Celia Ampel says:


    This story has a top-notch nut graf. The writer starts with a vivid, evocative lede, but quickly moves straight to the greater context: how many people are affected and how severe the problem is.

  7. http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/17/smallbusiness/community_banks_kasasa/index.htm?iid=EL

    Banking can be boring, but I thought this story did a pretty good job on the nut (second paragraph). It came in fast, but that was good because I don’t want to wade through too much story on banking before I get to the point. Was it anecdotal? No. But the lede told me what was happening and the nut told me why. That’s all I needed to know.

    I do hate the format of the story. And this isn’t a problem with the writing. There are random hyperlinks (presented as separate paragraphs that lead to other stories) that are rather jarring to me as a reader.

  8. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/08/sports/ncaabasketball/jim-boeheims-best-and-worst-season-at-syracuse.html?ref=sports

    This article takes a couple of grafs to get to the nut graf, but I think it works well in this case. It sets up the article well, talking about Boeheim and Syracuse’s success on the court to create an interesting dichotomy with his and the Universities struggles off the court.

  9. lizlaubach says:


    The third graf does a great job of setting up a “road map” that illustrates the deeper issue at hand, the struggle between the Pennsylvania state and federal government to regulate hydrofracking, that is connected to the recent news event being reported.

  10. feliciagreiff says:


    This article’s nut graf is the third paragraph. I think that’s too far down for the length of the story, and the nut graf itself doesn’t tell you much. I think the story should’ve been more focused on the donations that would help repair the Tiger Spot instead of leaving that bit of information for the end.

  11. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204781804577267304080904804.html?mod=WSJ_LifeStyle_Lifestyle_5

    It takes a few short paragraphs to get to the nut graf in this one, but reading through them is a breeze. The story opens with a tightly constructed scene and a very brief anecdote about Alec Baldwin as an example before it dives into the heart of the issue. It’s stated in one sentence and delivered sooner rather than later.

  12. http://theater.nytimes.com/2012/03/08/theater/reviews/an-iliad-at-new-york-theater-workshop.html?ref=arts

    This story is more of a soft news story but I think the nut graf is still visible in the second paragraph. In my opinion it is a bit wordy, but the lede hooked me in right away and I was willing to wade through the wordiness. Also, I think the style of writing takes the audience into consideration. It is more artistic writing to cover an artsy topic.

  13. http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2012/03/07/sports/soccer/07reuters-soccer-champions-barcelona.html?ref=sports

    The nut graf in this article is in the first two grafs and do a great job of explaining what happened and how historic Messi’s game was. The problem i found is that the nut is the first thing that is read. When you are writing about a game as poetic as soccer, and a player as world renowned as Lionel Messi, a great lede would have made the Nut graph much more relevant and important. Five goals have never been scored in a Champions league game by one player and the best they can do is put the nut as the lede. Not NY Times level writing. Even if this is technically just a gamer.

  14. http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2012/03/06/unique-meaning-championship-defined-college-basketball/

    I’ve been going back and forth on whether the nut in this story about Kansas basketball is the third or fifth graf. I’m leaning towards the fifth because it is more explanatory and provides some context, but the second sentence in the third graf does the same. Both set up the remainder of the well in either case. I also like the lede – not too ‘artsy,’ a word I liked that was mentioned in a previous comment, but also not boring, either.

  15. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2017674752_wanderings06m.html

    The third graf really wants to be a nut graf, but I think it needs just one more line to clarify why the dog walker is doing what he’s doing to make sure all the doggies get along nicely.

  16. Ben Harms says:


    I read a couple paragraphs into this and still couldn’t really decipher what was going on in the story, beside what kind of information was presented to the judge. It was somewhat unclear: was there reporting involved in either of the two options, or is it just a presentation of two sides of an argument? It would just help in this kind of situation to clear it up a bit.

  17. anlixiao says:

    This is a story happened in my hometown. The forth, sixth and eighth graf explain some interesting background information that make readers into it.


  18. marysaleah says:

    I think this story has a successful nut graf. It serves as a smooth transition/bridge between the anecdotal lead and the overarching issue.


  19. danburley says:

    This is actually a review of a new book by a religious historian that contextualizes the political climate surrounding John while he wrote the Book of Revelations. The writer starts off with a huge lead paragraph building up the apocalyptic nature of the Book of Revelations, equating the horseman, beasts, etc. to Hollywood and flashing lights. In the nut he deflates these larger-than-life images of the rapture and, like the book being reviewed, “sets out gently to bring their portents back to earth.” From there on it’s much easier for the reader to follow the review because we can see the mindset of the book’s author navigating her way through this grandiose imagery to nail down the political motivations behind the writing of the closing book of the New Testament.

    Read more http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2012/03/05/120305crbo_books_gopnik#ixzz1oXoJqhte

  20. winnduvall says:


    This story’s nut graf is buried beneath 10 paragraphs detailing how tight-knit the subject’s community is. It seems as if the interesting part of the story is that three family members died in quick succession, but the first half of this story focuses on how deeply rooted the family was in the community’s history.

  21. Greg Cornfield says:


    I really liked this story by Garrett because of how descriptive he was but also because of how far down he had the nut graf. I thought it was interesting how he made a nut graf that far down in what could have been just a simple game story.

  22. bwphoto4life says:

    Good graf: http://stlouis.cbslocal.com/2012/03/07/blagojevich-to-make-statement-before-heading-to-prison/
    The graf in this story is right in the third paragraph and is pretty classic inverted pyramid up until then. I do like that the lead leads away from the now celebrity-status criminals charges and focuses, almost ironically, on why the nut ex-Governor is still trying to make headlines.

    Bad graf: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/08/world/europe/saints-preserved-heart-stolen-from-dublin-church.html?smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto
    A preserved heart was stolen from a church, and I am left uncompelled to read this story and after the nut graf, which appears to be in the second paragraph, the story becomes relatively dull. Perhaps I am misplacing the true nut graf, but a story like this which the article claims resonates “Dan Brown” isn’t going to be a best seller anytime soon.

  23. http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2012/03/04/former-retired-public-administrator-run-again-her-endorsed-replacement/

    This is actually a story that I wrote on a very interesting and awkward subject. I think my nut graf works well, but I was interested what other people think. I was trying to convey how awkward it is between these two candidates running against each other with a little bit more background in the second paragraph. It was definitely challenging to write the story completely, but I was particularly having trouble writing the lead and the nut graf, hoping that they wouldn’t sound too repetitive.

  24. Hannah says:


    So I’m a self-admitted Politico fan, but I think this article, helped significantly by its perfectly blunt nut graph (the fourth), does an excellent job of humanizing those congressmen we often forget are actually people, too. Well, as much as politicians can be people without hearts. But I digress: I was really interested to learn how public scrutiny affects the way our leaders feel as much as it affects the way they act. In both cases, it’s not always a positive influence.

  25. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/09/world/africa/online-joseph-kony-and-a-ugandan-conflict-soar-to-topic-no-1.html?hp

    The nut graf in this story (paragraph 4) worked well because it gave me the statistical information I wanted to know after the lede paragraphs. I was hooked on the story after the descriptions about the gunfire and tense atmosphere. While the lede was interesting, the nut graf really drew me into the story because it showed the magnitude of viewers the activists who created “KONY 2012” were attracting.

  26. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/opinion/sunday/the-go-nowhere-generation.html?_r=1

    The nut graf in this article (second and third graf) lay out the real problem early. It was nice that the authors placed it early, before the writing delved to far into cultural and literary comparisons and lost the whole point of the article.

  27. Allison Pohle says:

    I was interested in this story because of the the headline “Peer Pressure? How About Fighting to the Death?” From the headline on the top of my browser window, I could see that the article was about the wildly popular ‘Hunger Games’ books and the movie version for the first book is being released soon.

    However, reading the nut graf for the story didn’t at all lead me to believe that that’s what the article was about. The nut graf questions who the audience for the Hunger Games books and movie are. It’s actually phrased as a question and provides the author’s own possible solutions. The article is well-reported, with interviews from the movie’s director, the lead actress and the book’s publisher, but the lack of a definite nut graf made me confused about the angle of the story and what it was really about. It was only after finishing the article did I go back and look for what I thought was the nut graf, but still, it’s not at all clearly defined.


  28. Of course I went to my home state’s newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, to look for a crappy nut graf. I love the Trib, but it’s no NYT. Here’s a great example:


    First of all, the story is about BWW and iPads. How can you go wrong on a story about two of my favorite things?? The lede starts off horribly. There is sooo much you could do with the fact that iPads are replacing waiters right at the restaurant, rather than a boring line that assumes something without verifying it. While the nut graf gets the pertinent information out there, it does so in a such a boring manner that doesn’t entice me to keep reading. And it’s about BWW and iPads! It must be a fail when a story line like that can’t even keep a reader going.

  29. Erin Jones says:


    When you read this story closely, the nut graph stands out a little because it gives an overview of what the smoking report covers. But there are so many numbers and percentages surrounding it that I had to reread the story a few times to understand what was important and why I should care. The nut graph would stand out more if the most important data was in the lead and the nut graph, instead of scattered throughout. Especially when I was first skimming it in the “online way”, I couldn’t tell what the main or most important ideas were.

  30. Lauren Page says:


    I really like how this article starts the story with a short sentence, then goes into an anecdote that includes March Madness (let’s face it—just about everyone is obsessed with it at this point), then gets to the nut graf. For certain stories, getting to the nut graf sooner would probably be better, but in this case, the personal story of Mark Hanis is what makes this story interesting. The nut graf (below) tells how he got started after he heard of the genocide in Darfur and tells of an event that happened the day before, which makes this story newsworthy (time).

    “So he skipped class and headed to the library to look up Sudan and Darfur on Google. It became a pattern, and in 2005 he helped start an influential anti-genocide advocacy organization.

    He shared his experience with MU students and faculty Monday night to inspire them to “engage public policy” with issues relevant to them.”

  31. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/03/12/148457233/death-by-bacon-study-finds-eating-meat-is-risky

    I think this is a good example of story that has a hard-hitting lede and a straightforward nut graf that, from my perspective, is located in the second paragraph. While the lede is compelling, it’s short. The nut graf is also short, but it clearly states why the reader should care.

  32. Here’s the link to the post I put on my blog about nut grafs…I thought we had to post it on ours! Regardless, my links are on my post from March 8.


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