WRITING THE FEATURE, SPEECH,
AND ACCIDENT STORIES
In Chapter 2, the fundamental aspects of
newswriting were covered. Once you master the basics
of newswriting, then, and only then, are you ready to
wrestle with the more complex news stories. This
chapter will help you develop the skills and learn the
knowledge necessary to write effective feature, speech,
sports and accident stories.
THE FEATURE STORY
LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Identify the
characteristics and structure of a feature story
and the techniques used in producing a
Writing straight news strengthens the writers
powers of observation and builds his skill in using the
English language. It impresses on the writer the
necessity for ruthless editing until the story is specific,
clear and vital.
Conversely, feature writing is not an exact science.
Much depends on the skill, imagination and creativeness
of the writer.
What is a feature story? It has been called the story
that has to be told. It has also been called simply
human interest. Interest in human beings, and in
events because they concern people in situations that
might confront anyone else, is called human interest.
When a shipboard explosion takes the lives of several
crew members and prompts the gallant efforts of other
crew members to prevent the loss of the entire crew, the
human interest, or appeal, may be of a sympathetic
nature. A man with a broken nose might also evoke a
sympathetic response. However, if the injury occurred
when he walked into a telephone pole while scrutinizing
an attractive 1957 Chevrolet on the other side of the
street, the appeal might be of a humorous nature.
Certain topics have human interest built in. And,
although they may not possess any of the other elements
of news value (timeliness, proximity, prominence or
consequence), they still have personal appeal. Human
interest may fall into many categories, including those
in the following list:
The unusual and the extraordinary
Mysteries and catastrophes
Romance and sex
Adventure and exploits
Child, teen-age and adult life
Recreations and hobbies
Business, professional and home activities
Success and happiness
In any case, a good human interest story is built
around the premise that the reader can easily identify
with the subject or event. It involves a fellow human
being and a situation that could happen to, or involve,
Human interest stories not only entertain, but are
often informative in that they contain all the elements of
a news story. However, the human interest aspect of the
story outweighs its value as a straight news story.
Major news events seem to tell themselves. The
straight newswriter can set down all the facts, arrange
them together with appropriate words and have an
adequate news story. The feature, however, must be
brought to public attention by the creative writer. As a
Navy JO, your job is to recognize the human interest
possibilities of stories and turn a drab yarn into a bright
one without exaggeration or distortion
is that it emphasizes something new, odd or unusual.
The feature story is similar to basic newswriting in
that it has a news peg. What sets it far apart, however,
Both of these attributes are covered in the following text.