Writing Feature Stories: How to Research and Write Newspaper and Magazine Articles

Writing Feature Stories: How to Research and Write Newspaper and Magazine Articles

Writing Feature Stories: How to Research and Write Newspaper and Magazine Articles

Writing Feature Stories: How to Research and Write Newspaper and Magazine Articles

Synopsis

A systematic and user-friendly approach to journalistic feature story writing for journalism students, professionals, freelancers, and beginners is provided in this guide. Writers will learn to move beyond conventional news stories and embrace their creativity to create compelling features. Generating fresh ideas, gathering factual information, sifting through raw material, choosing the best angle, and working with editors are all explored. Discussion questions and exercises reinforce the ideas presented in each chapter. Pop culture examples and recently published articles are used to make concepts memorable and easily accessible.

Excerpt

A writer says: read what I have written An historian says: listen to my lecture A critic says: listen to what I think A journalist says: let me tell you a story.

Gideon Haigh

Novelists know the terror of the blank page; journalists know the terror of deadlines. Novelists have to create something out of nothing; without their imagination the page remains blank. Journalists have to find the news and test its accuracy; miss the deadline and they may as well have stayed in bed. And feature writers—what about feature writers? Wherever they turn they see paradox. They're not novelists but they are asked to do something more than simply report the news of the day. They are given licence to be creative but they are still journalists and are still writing about the real world. They have to meet deadlines but not necessarily daily deadlines. Is it any wonder people get confused about feature writing?

As a young journalist I vividly remember feeling confused when I was first asked to write features. I had grasped the essentials of the news story ('The Prime Minister yesterday called an election, after weeks of intense speculation …') but that was only after it was drilled into me by dint of repeated practice in a newsroom. Now editors were asking for pieces much longer than the customary 600–word (or 'twelve snappy pars' as they were called) news stories. They told me they wanted background, they wanted colour, they wanted to run 'long reads'. So I started gathering more information, reading reports, visiting places, interviewing people, and much of what I gathered was good stuff. I enjoyed interviewing and most people seemed happy enough to talk. I loved words and I had this idea I could write. The problem was, I had no idea how to put together a feature, no idea how to start it and no idea how to order the mass of raw material that sprawled across my desk and onto the floor.

Nowhere was this more painfully evident than in writing a profile of Frank Vitkovic, the 22–year-old man who in 1987 walked into the . . .

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