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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.