Feature story

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A feature story is a piece of non-fiction writing about news. A feature story is a type of soft news.[1] The main sub-types are the news feature and the human-interest story.[1]

A feature story is distinguished from other types of non-fiction by the quality of the writing. Stories should be memorable for their reporting, crafting, creativity, and economy of expression.[2]


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.[3] 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.[3] Unlike straight news, the feature story serves the purpose of entertaining the readers, in addition to informing them.[3] Although truthful and based upon facts, they are less objective that straight news.[3]

Unlike straight news, the subject of a feature story is usually not time sensitive.[3] It generally features good news.[4]

Feature stories are usually written in active voice, with an emphasis on lively, entertaining prose.[3] Some forms, such as a color story, uses description as the main mode.[3]

Published features and news[edit]

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,[5] 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[6]).
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).[7]
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.[8] 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.[9]

Usage by the press[edit]

As the print media faces ever stiffer competition from other sources of news, feature stories are becoming more common as they can be more engaging to read. At many newspapers, news stories are sometimes written in "feature style," adopting some of the conventions of feature writing while still covering breaking events. Wire services such as the Associated Press, which previously made a point of distributing only news, now also include feature stories. As feature stories are evergreen, they operate outside the 24-hour news cycle and can be developed over several days, weeks or months.

The Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing is awarded annually for a distinguished example of feature writing in an American newspaper or magazine, giving prime consideration to high literary quality and originality.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Granato, Len (2002). Newspaper Feature Writing. UNSW Press. p. 3. ISBN 9780868404530.
  2. ^ "Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism Guidelines" (PDF). Pulitzer.com. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Garrison, Bruce (4 April 2014). Professional Feature Writing. Routledge. pp. 13–16. ISBN 9781135676773.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Randall, David (May 1, 2000). The Universal Journalist. Pluto Press. p. 240. ISBN 0-7453-1641-7.
  6. ^ "Paper exposes Palace security". BBC News. November 19, 2003. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
  7. ^ http://www.uncp.edu/home/acurtis/Courses/ResourcesForCourses/WritingFeatureStories.html
  8. ^ Reinardy, Scott; Wanta, Wayne (24 March 2015). The Essentials of Sports Reporting and Writing. Routledge. p. 281. ISBN 9781317669302.
  9. ^ Reinardy, Scott; Wanta, Wayne (24 March 2015). The Essentials of Sports Reporting and Writing. Routledge. p. 285. ISBN 9781317669302.

Further reading[edit]

  • Garrison, Bruce: Professional Feature Writing. Routledge, 5th edition 2009. ISBN 978-0415998970