Skill Assignment 3: News Feature Story

Overview

The ability to write strong feature stories is a frontline skill for strategic communication professionals. Regardless of the final format (news release, newsletter, social media, or elsewhere on the Web), you must be able to tell your organization’s stories in a clear and compelling fashion. The well-written feature lies at the heart of it all.

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For this assignment, you pull together what you have learned in Lesson 5: Reporting and Interviewing and Lesson 6: Hard News and Feature Writing, and try your hand at writing a news feature article. Topic selection is up to you. The story can be about a person, place, organization, service, or product of your choice.

The Process

Here is the process for this skill assignment. Follow these steps carefully.

Research

Consider what you know about this subject and the kinds of topics that would make for an interesting feature story. Based on that, select your idea.

Conduct some background research on your topic using these techniques.

Run online searches and visit relevant websites.
Ask employees or volunteers for background documents.
Go wherever is necessary to locate the background information you need.
Interviewing

Schedule at least two interview sources and make arrangements to interview them in person or by phone. It is critical that you begin contacting your sources now, because they may not be available on short notice. Call, e-mail, or stop by their office in person to set up the interview.

Note: You must conduct your interviews in person or by phone. E-mail is not acceptable for interviewing. It does not give you the depth and level of interchange needed for a news story.

Based on your research findings, create a list of 8 to 10 good interview questions. You will also need to be prepared to depart from those questions as needed.

During the interview, record your notes on a digital recorder or notebook. If you plan to use audio in your story, make sure that you save the files.

Multimedia elements

Obtain your photos, graphics, video, or audio elements. You can ask for them in advance or at the interview. You might also travel to your story location to obtain these items.

Note: You must obtain or produce the multimedia items on your own. Downloading someone else’s photos, graphics, video, or audio is not acceptable, and may constitute unauthorized use of copyrighted items.

Writing

Recalling everything you have learned to date in class, start writing your story, following this process.

Begin with a colorful news lead that captures the most important news elements of the story. Because it is a feature story, you can be somewhat creative here.
Continue in descending order with the next most-important facts.
Introduce your interview sources early in the story with a quote or two.
Alternate your own narrative with their quotes.
Create effective transitions and introduce new interview sources as needed.
Write a strong conclusion that ties in all of your story elements.
If you took photos for your story, include the photo captions at the bottom of the story.

Proof and edit your story carefully. Pay close attention to grammar, punctuation, spelling, AP style, and internal consistency. Media professionals are expected to be careful writers and editors of their own work.

To earn the best grade possible, review the Writing Rubric in the Course Information module before you start this assignment.

Skill Assignment Requirements
500 to 750 words
Double-spaced
12 point font
Minimum of two different multimedia elements (photos, graphics, video, or audio)
5 point penalty for formatting errors

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