News features provide background on current events. By sharing experts views, the opinions of affected people, facts and figures and making a connection to the bigger picture news features enable readers to better form their own opinion about a sanitation or water related event. The following sections inform you about the structure and possible elements as well as the style of a news feature.
A news feature is based on current events – the news – but it goes into more detail than a simple news story. It provides concise and well researched information about a current political, cultural, social, sporting or business topic. In general, it provides further information. But it does not judge or comment.
How is a news feature constructed?
A news feature can be anywhere between 500 and 1,500 words long. In general, they are shorter than more detailed features on less current topics but longer than a simple news report. The most important and most current information is found in the first paragraph of a news feature. The five ‘W’s are answered at the top of the story (see News Story for more on the five ‘W’s). The rest of the news feature goes into more detail on each of the five ‘W’s. The most important, and most current, information is at the top of the news feature.
What information does a news feature contain?
More detailed facts: dates, statistics and other facts can be included.
Quotes: A news feature may include more interviews or more quotes than a news story. The interviewees are free to make judgments and comment. The journalist is not.
Live action / eye witness accounts: A news feature may include information about a situation, or scene that the journalist observed.
In practice, a news feature often contains a mixture of the above.
How is a news feature written?
- The language of the news feature is concise and objective.
- The story is made up of shorter sentences and uses shorter words where possible.
- The story avoids being overly descriptive or complex.
- The story avoids foreign words and abbreviations.
- Is the information in the news feature as up-to-date as possible? Does the news feature contain something new and relevant to any reader interested in the topic?
- Are the five ‘W’s answered within the first few paragraphs?
- Does the body of the story go into the five ‘W’s and the one ‘H’ in more detail?
- Have the most important questions been answered first?
- Could the reader understand what was going on, without having to read any other stories or articles?
- Does the story inform the reader as to who all the people or institutions in the story are and what their relevance is? Have all abbreviations been explained? Have locations been put into context?
- Is the story accurate and neutral?
When basic questions about journalism come up, this handbook, written and produced by Media in Cooperation and Transition (MICT), provides clear, brief and precise answers. Shortcuts to Journalism isn’t just for journalists – it’s also helpful for non-journalists. Download the English version here or the Arabic version here.Schmidt, E., Tirok, M. and Bösch, M. (2016): Shortcuts to Journalism: The Basics of Print, Online and Broadcast Reporting. Berlin, Germany: Media in Cooperation and Transition gGmbH PDF