Sample Cover Stories from Magazines

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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Assignment Week Five:

This week I would like you to begin the preliminary work to your 1500 word feature story. To this end, 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. Add a new web page to your site named Feature Story Background. Place this new page under your Main Menu. Use this new page to create a pitch that tells me about your feature story. You should write the following in your pitch:
    • indicate the 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?
    • 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.
  2. Locate at least 7 photographs that you could use in your feature story. Place these photos on your Feature Story Background page. 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.
  3. Finally, please do not forget to screenshot your work (Take a screenshot of your Feature Story Background page) and submit it on Blackboard by Sunday at 11:59 PM.