COM 307: News features

Always in a rush

Your second writing assignment is to write a news feature. The assignment is due Oct. 12. Elements of a news feature, guidelines and tips are below.

News feature – A news feature isn’t just a nuts-and-bolts news story giving the who, what, when, where, how, etc., of a news story. It goes beyond that. It is a feature story that contains a strong news element.

News features can be about people or places, trends or issues. The sky’s the limit. But the story should contain news. It should be timely and relevant. It should appeal to your audience. And let’s make your audience Florida readers, even though your audience is anyone who reads your story on the Web.

Key elements of a news feature include:

  • News. Why is your story important now? What is new and newsy? Tell readers up high in the story why your story is important and why they should read it.
  • An interesting lead. You need to hook the reader right away. Try to capture the reader’s attention and then keep it.
  • Lively quotes. The reader needs to know you were there. You interviewed real live humans. This isn’t some second-hand story taken from a press release or a web site.
  • Quality writing. Take extra care to make your writing fresh, colorful, interesting, concise and informative.
  • Balance. If you are writing about a controversial subject, seek out a variety of points of view. That helps give your story balance.
  • Depth. Keep reporting until you believe you have discovered the essential truths about your subject. That will give your writing some authority once you put your story on paper (or computer screen).


  • Google your story topic to see what else, if anything, has been written. Your goal should be to add to the conversation or debate about your topic, not rehash what’s already been covered.
  • Don’t leave unanswered questions in your story.


  • Please type your story, print it out and give me a copy of it by the start of class on Oct. 12.
  • Do not post your story to your blog yet. Wait until I grade it and give it back to you.
  • If your story is time-sensitive and needs to be published right away or it will be old, then it’s OK to post right away. Just let me know when you plan to do that.
  • You are not allowed to interview friends, relatives or family members.
  • Your topic should be of interest to Florida readers.
  • You may conduct interviews in person or by phone or by email.
  • You must shoot or obtain a photograph to illustrate your story.
  • Make sure your interview subjects know that the story will appear online for the world to see.
  • Your story must include interview subject’s first and last name, job title or occupation, age and town of residence.
  • You must talk to and quote at least three human sources who are knowledgeable about your subject.
  • Your story should contain at least 500 words. Include the word count at the bottom of your story, please.
  • Your story must include an element of news, timeliness or human interest.
  • Your news feature should include quotes. That helps give life to your story.
  • Your story should include proper attribution.
  • Your story should be fair to people you interview. You should not, for instance, make accusations against anyone without supporting documentation, including police reports, court documents and other evidence. You should also give people the chance to respond to any accusations before your story is published.
  • Include your email address at the bottom of your story so that readers can contact you.

The assignment is worth 10 points. Be aware of these point deductions:

  • 1 point off if you don’t cite at least three human sources
  • 1 point off if you misspell the name of a person, company or organization
  • 1 point off if you have five or more AP style errors
  • 1 point off if you don’t meet the 500-word minimum
  • 1 point off if your story does not contain a news element

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s