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For episode posts from the Sword & Pen podcast team.

Military Veterans in Journalism Podcast Now on Wreaths Across America Radio

By News, Podcast

Thanks to a new partnership with Wreaths Across America Radio, Military Veterans in Journalism’s podcast “Sword & Pen” will now be featured alongside the online station’s other veteran-centric broadcast content.

“‘Sword & Pen’ is a great addition to our line up,” said Jeff Pierce, Director of Broadcast and Media Partnerships for Wreaths Across America. “As a ‘Voice for America’s Veterans’, the addition of shows like ‘Sword & Pen’ provides another layer of depth to our selection of content designed to inform and provide resources for our Veterans. As Wreaths Across America Radio continues to support and further the mission of Wreaths Across America, we are always looking for more content like ‘Sword & Pen’ that will continue to help veterans-related organizations with their mission.”

Sword & Pen, launched in late 2019 with MVJ Webmaster Rich Dolan as host, is a once-monthly podcast that provides educational and career tips for military veterans interested in journalism. Now helmed by co-hosts Drew Lawrence and Lori King, Sword & Pen episodes feature interviews with military veterans already in the field, journalism educators, and other supporters of increasing newsroom diversity through hiring and promoting veterans. Podcast guests share their stories, what they think veterans can bring to newsrooms, and their advice for those looking to get started as journalists and military veterans during each episode.

“When MVJ started in 2019, Sword & Pen was one of the first programs where we could spotlight vets in the news industry while providing advice to those who weren’t sure where to start,” said Zack Baddorf, MVJ Executive Director. “We are thrilled to partner with Wreaths Across America Radio to share Sword & Pen alongside their variety of programming that helps America’s veterans. We hope each month’s episode can be useful to military veterans in journalism nationwide.”

The new content sharing partnership begins this week, with Sword & Pen playing on Mondays at 10 AM, Saturdays at 8 PM, and again Sundays at 7 PM Eastern. Wreaths Across America Radio’s 24/7 stream can be accessed anytime and anywhere on the iHeart Radio app, Audacy app, TuneIn app, or at

About Military Veterans in Journalism

Military Veterans in Journalism is a professional association that builds community for vets, supports their career growth, and advocates for diversifying newsrooms through hiring and promoting more vets. Learn more at

About Wreaths Across America Radio

Wreaths Across America Radio is a 24/7 Internet stream. Its unique format provides informational and inspiring content about members of the U.S. armed forces, their families, military veterans, and volunteers throughout the country and overseas who support the mission to Remember, Honor and Teach. Along with the inspiring content, Wreaths Across America Radio plays a variety of music with roots firmly planted in patriotism and a country music thread running through the core of the stream. Wreaths Across America Radio has a live morning show every weekday morning from 6 am to 10 am ET, along with a variety of special programs that support the mission.

Sword and Pen: Roy Peter Clark and the Art of Writing

By Podcast

A lead sentence.

How to begin? Not with a question.

Nor should leads begin with dates, names or quotes – if you can help it.

A lead sentence is the beginning of a news story, and if you start with any of the aforementioned ways, then I probably won’t read past the first paragraph.

I’m not the only one turned off by weak leads. Ameriforce Media associate editor Kari Williams recently Tweeted, “Full disclosure: If I start to read a story and the lede begins with a question or is an “Imagine” lede, I will immediately stop because I’ve lost all interest.”

Ameriforce correspondent Lucretia Cunningham replied, “Especially if it’s a yes or no question. My answer is always “no” and my reading stops there (insert laughing emoji).”

I believe a lead sentence is one of the most important parts of a story, and a topic worthy of a podcast. It takes skill and savvy to get a reader past the first few lines of a story, and nobody knows that better than Roy Peter Clark, of the Poynter Institute.

Clark, an author, journalist and educator, has made it his mission to rate the best Pulitzer Prize lead sentences for the past six years, so I chose him to shine a light on this underrated art form in the March episode of Sword and Pen.

“If the lead is a gold coin, it shouldn’t be the only gold coin in the story. It should be the first of maybe two or three,” he said.

So, what does he consider a golden lead sentence?

“When they heard the screams, no one suspected the rooster.”

Curious as to why a rooster would be considered as the prime suspect in an investigative story? If the answer is yes, then the writer did her job. You’ll have to listen to the podcast to hear the rest of the story.

During this 50:26-minute podcast, Clark masterfully expanded beyond lead sentences. He dropped several golden nuggets of writing advice as he wove an instructional tale of how to craft a solid story; gave us a sneak peek into his writer’s workbench; and instructed us on the various moves he makes when trying to engage readers throughout a story, like leading someone into a story without telling them exactly what it’s about.

Clark also divulged one of his favorite (yet embarrassing) lead sentences, explained how he juggles AP and APA style as an author and journalist, and proudly touted the Poynter Institute, which he deems one of the most important influential schools for journalists and democracy.

Lori King, the author of this piece, is a member of MVJ and co-host of the Sword & Pen podcast. She is an adjunct photojournalism instructor, a producer for the ONPA Buckeye Visualist podcast, and a retired military journalist.