A feature story, as contrasted with straight news reporting, normally presents newsworthy events and information through a narrative story, complete with a plot and story characters. It differs from a short story primarily in that the content is not fictional. Like literature, the feature story relies upon creativity and subjectivity to make an emotional connection with the readers and may highlight some universal aspect of human nature. Unlike straight news, the feature story serves the purpose of entertaining the readers, in addition to informing them. Although truthful and based on good facts, they are less objective than straight news.
Unlike straight news, the subject of a feature story is usually not time sensitive. It generally features good news.
Feature stories are usually written in an active style, with an emphasis on lively, entertaining prose. Some forms, such as a color story, uses description as the main mode.
Published features and news
Feature stories are stories with only one feature, but are creative and true. While the distinction between published features and news is often clear, when approached conceptually there are few hard boundaries between the two. It is quite possible to write a feature story in the style of a news story. Nevertheless, features do tend to take a more narrative approach, perhaps using opening paragraphs as scene-setting narrative hooks instead of the delivery of the most important facts. A feature story can be in a news article, a newspaper, and even online.
In The Universal Journalist, David Randall suggests the following categories of feature:
- Colour piece
- Describing a scene and throw light on its theme.
- Fly on the wall
- Activities are observed without the involvement of the journalist.
- Behind the scenes
- Similar to the above, but with the journalist a part of events.
- In disguise/undercover
- Pretending to be another person (see Ryan Parry).
- An examination of a particular person. Will often include an interview.
- This type of article assists readers by explaining how to do something (and the writer may learn about the topic through research, experience, or interviews with experts on the topic).
- Fact box / Chronology
- A simple list of facts, perhaps in date order.
- Backgrounder / A history of
- An extended fact box.
- Full texts
- Extracts from books or transcripts of interviews.
- My testimony
- A first-person report of some kind.
- An examination of the reasons behind an event.
- Vox pop / Expert roundup
- A selection of views from members of the public or experts.
- Opinion poll
Among sports writers, feature stories tend to be either human-interest stories or personality profiles of sports figures. A profile presents information about a person, but it differs from a biography by focusing on the person's personality or anecdotes, rather than the factual data about birth, education, or major achievements.
- Documentary film
- Radio documentary
- Language Arts
- Human interest story
- Granato, Len (2002). Newspaper Feature Writing. UNSW Press. p. 3. ISBN 9780868404530.
- "Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism Guidelines" (PDF). Pulitzer.com. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
- Garrison, Bruce (4 April 2014). Professional Feature Writing. Routledge. pp. 13–16. ISBN 9781135676773.
- Starr, Douglas Perret; Dunsford, Deborah Williams (14 January 2014). Working the Story: A Guide to Reporting and News Writing for Journalists and Public Relations Professionals. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 163. ISBN 9780810889125.
- Randall, David (May 1, 2000). The Universal Journalist. Pluto Press. p. 240. ISBN 0-7453-1641-7.
- "Paper exposes Palace security". BBC News. November 19, 2003. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-09-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Reinardy, Scott; Wanta, Wayne (24 March 2015). The Essentials of Sports Reporting and Writing. Routledge. p. 281. ISBN 9781317669302.
- Reinardy, Scott; Wanta, Wayne (24 March 2015). The Essentials of Sports Reporting and Writing. Routledge. p. 285. ISBN 9781317669302.