A central component for any copywriter is the ability to create feature stories. This is a skill I would like you to have, as it is useful for engaging your audience for a website, for a newspaper, for a blog, for a newscast, for a magazine, etc. What is a feature story?

A feature story:

  • is the news behind the news.
  • is longer than most news stories.
  • is well researched and complex.
  • is connected to current events (Why this? Why now?)
  • covers the subject in depth, includes background, and brings readers up to date.
  • includes quotations from principle characters, experts—a variety of sources.
  • may use photographs, charts, graphs, sidebars or boxes, drawings, diagrams, etc.
  • takes time to interest readers and helps them see the complexity of the story.
  • brings life and color to the subject.

Varieties of the feature story and examples.

  • News behind the news (Who are the Taliban? How did they attain power?)
  • Travel article (hiking the Appalachian trail)
  • Profile (extended interview: What makes Queen Latifah tick?)
  • Soft news background story (how school vouchers are working in New York)
  • Entertainment feature (the making of the film Power Rangers)
  • Science story (Where is stem-cell research leading us?)
  • Business feature (Microsoft is changing its corporate structure)

Requirements of a feature story:

  • Research, background, depth, information from different kinds of sources
  • Quotations, a variety of perspectives, views of participants and experts
  • Connection to current events or some other compelling answer to Why This? Why Now?

Here are Poynter’s top 23 feature stories of 2014. I encourage you to take a look at them to gain a stronger familiarity of feature stories. If you want to really see creative idea development when thinking of a feature story topic, take a look at this feature story: The Rock Music Guide to NBA Teams.

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Lab Assignment, Tuesday, Week 4:

This week I would like you to compose a feature story. Today, you will determine your feature story topic, identify 2 or more people to interview, and tell me a bit about your proposed feature story.

  1. Determine a topic for your feature story. You will need to interview 2 people on the topic, so please keep this in mind. What would you like to write about? What interests you? You may certainly verbally tell me your topic if you wish to ensure you are on the correct path.
  2. In class, add a new web page to your site and place this new page under your menu. Use this new page to create a pitch that tells me about your feature story. You should write the following in your pitch:
    • create a title. Make it catchy. This is the title you will use on your final draft of your feature story
    • then tell me about the 5w’s and the h that you will cover in the feature story. One or two sentences for each of these reporters’ questions in bullet format will suffice.
    • tell me about 1 or 2 people that you will interview that can speak about your topic and why you chose the person or people.
  3. Locate at least 7 photographs that you could use in your feature story. Add them to your media library (do not add them to your page just yet). One of these photos should be the hero photo — the photo that will reside at the top of the page near the headline, which will help engage readers.

Lab Assignment, Thursday, Week 4:

  1. First, please write your complete rough draft of your feature story. You should have proper grammar, punctuation, include 4 photos at minimum, and hyperlinks in your article as needed. Please make sure you add a navigational link to your menu so others may locate your article.
  2. Here is an example of the way your article should look on the final draft — it does not need to look this polished on a rough draft.