Peace Love & Sillyness

Creating News Features and Op-Ed

Posted on: 11/14/2010

These are my notes on Chapter 7:

  • a features story can provide additional background information, generate human interest, and created understanding in a more imaginative way.
  • features are considered soft news; they all have the potential to provide more information to the consumer, give background and context about organizations, provide behind-the-scenes perspective, give a human dimension to situations and events, & generate publicity for standard products and services.
  • good features writers ask a lot of questions
  • news events/issues can trigger ideas for features stories
  • once you have your feature idea there are 4 ways to proceed:
  1. write a general feature & distribute to a variety of publications (most common)
  2. write an exclusive feature for a specific publication
  3. don’t write the feature at all. give a journalist your idea that they may/may not want to develop on their own
  4. post the feature on your organization’s website for possible downloading by journalists & consumers
  • There are many different types of features, including: case studies, application stories, research studies, backgrounders, personality profiles, & historical pieces.
  • formatting for a features is similar to that of a news release
  • you can use an informational headline or one that uses a play on words, alliteration, or a rhyme
  • the purpose of the lead in a features story is to attract attention and get the reader interested
  • the body usually includes:
  1. direct quotes from people
  2. concrete examples and illustrations
  3. basic statistics or research findings
  4. descriptive words that paint mental pictures
  5. information presented in an entertaining way
  • photos & graphics often accompany a features story to give it more appeal
  • Placement opportunities include newspapers, general-circulation magazines, specialty/trade magazines, and internal publications. (broadcast & online media are also an option)
  • op-ed means “opposite the editorial page”; it is to present a variety of views on current news events, governmental policies, pending legislation, and social issues
  • “the whole point of the op-ed is to illuminate the issue in a new way. it isn’t just opinion; it’s an opinion grounded in facts, data, and research”
  • the op-ed pages in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Washington Post are the best known/most prestigious (in terms of placement).
  • the next best thing to an op-ed is a letter
  • letters should be short, temperate & factual, identify the subject in the opening paragraph, state the theme in the second paragraph, have several other paragraphs, & a closing.
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