Of all the five Ws, the WHY is probably the most dispensable.
If your subject matter is complicated and requires above-average levels of explanation, you can occasionally afford to leave the WHY to the second sentence.
Indeed, the WHY is often the area which – through the entirety of an article or press release – is afforded the most space and attention.
Readers are also willing to wait for the WHY, so busy are they digesting the what, where, when and who.
Most introductions leave the WHY until last.
As we can see from this intro in yesterday’s Telegraph, having a hyphen or comma to allow a brief pause is a great way to allow the reader to take a breath before learning WHY.
“A strategic Ukrainian bridge has been targeted by Russian long-range missile attacks, according to British intelligence, in a move by the Kremlin to further exacerbate a looming global food crisis.”
The choice facing the journalist here was a short intro without the WHY, which would have followed imminently in the second sentence, or a lengthier one with all the details.
Even at a slightly long 30-words, there’s an incredible amount of information packed into that intro.
It’s important to tee up the WHY early because it is likely to be the subject of most debate through an article.
If we take the above example, what people will want to talk about is not simply the WHAT (the targeting of a key bridge) but WHY they are deciding to do it.
So you must prime your readers for that.
If you forget about the WHY in the intro or second line, it will then seem puzzling – like an abrupt change of gear – when you introduce it later.
And if you never introduce it, your reader will leave the piece uninformed and frustrated.