J335 Feature Assignment



Feature Story (20%)

This will be a profile or issue that you will begin reporting and writing at the start of the semester and work on all semester long. I will require parts of this to be handed in throughout the semester:

  • Part I: The Story Idea, Questions and Background. Due 2/5
  • Part II: The First Interview (Written in story form, with relevant quotes) and strategy going forward. Due 2/21
  • Part III: The final story Due 4/16

For your feature for this class, please research, report, and write a profile or issue. These could stem from the other assignments you have done, but they do not have to. Be careful about what you select so that you will have something meaningful to write on. Do not pick a topic area that is too broad. This will be an exercise in focusing as much as in writing about an issue or profile subject. Do not pick a group or person simply because they are cool or are doing good works. Your biggest challenge here is to make sure this is not a fluffy public relations piece. Every detail, every piece of dialogue you put into that story should go to your point. Think about how you want to structure the story before you write it. There needs to be tension. Think complication/resolution. Think substance. Think challenges. Choose according to what interests you. Do some research on it. If you do a profile for the first piece, you should plan to do an issue story for the next one. You may also choose ONE of these stories to do as a team of two.

Part I:  For the first part, due 2/5, you must have a thought-out story proposal of 2 pages (single space) that lays out your basic idea (think of this as your research question such as “What does the Walker recall mean for national politics?” or “How does one become Miss. America? What does that entail exactly?”) and an elaboration of why you think audiences would like this story. This report should also include:

n  A suggested venue for the piece (so that you can identify an audience you will write for);

n  The researched background of the piece (with sources, including other news pieces about the topic)

n  A list of potential interviewees with questions for each

n  Must have a list of hashtags, key influencers, bloggers and others in social media realms that deal with this topic

n  Must have one blog entry and/or five tweets crowdsourcing for this topic

Part II: By 2/21, you should have interviewed at least one major source for the piece; it does not have to be THE main source (and actually should probably NOT be your profile topic, if that is what you are doing). I’d like you to start composing your story, using the information from this source so far. Please include a list of other interviews and questions you will pursue.

n  Must have one blog entry off your interview such as a Q/A

Part III: These are the minimum requirements for the FINAL story, due 4/16:

Þ   There MUST be at least four (4) HUMAN sources in your story. For example, one source will be the subject of the profile (this means that if you are profiling a company or an organization, you cannot count the director and the assistant director as TWO sources. Instead I would consider them ONE source, because they are speaking from one perspective – unless, of course the whole point of your story is dissension among the organization, in which case come talk to me). Other sources would be: someone affected by the person or group, peers of the person or group (i.e. other professors or other trade people), fans of the person or group, and people who know the person or group extremely well.

Þ   There MUST be at least TWO (2) pieces of documentary evidence in your piece, such as a report, numbers, statistics, poll, trade organization, etc.

Þ   There MUST be quotes in your story.

Þ   There MUST be at least two ideas for interactivity and multimedia to correlate with your story. (Note that you do not need the actual art.)

Þ   Must have one picture

Þ   Must have one blog post and five marketing tweets to specific hashtags and tagging key stakeholders/influencers

Þ   There MUST be a Web summary at the top of your story (separate from the story, though). This should be one or two sentences that an editor could use to promote your story on the Web.

Þ   Your story MUST be written in journalistic fashion.

Þ   It MUST be true.

Þ   It MUST be current, meaning there needs to be a news hook for your story.

Þ   You cannot write about something you are part of, nor can you write about your friends.

Þ   You must list the sources and phone numbers at the bottom of the article. I will be selecting papers randomly to fact check.

Þ   You cannot use FIRST PERSON (I, we, us, me). Use of the first person means an automatic F.

Þ   You MUST spell all names correctly throughout the piece. Failure to do so results in an automatic F.

These are the minimum requirements, and failure to meet any one of them will severely affect your grade, and you may not be allowed to rewrite it. I do not hesitate to give you a failing grade if you have not met these minimum requirements.

Fair Warning: I reserve the right to call your sources to fact check your story. If I cannot find someone in your story, I will ask you to produce the person, so be prepared for that possibility.

Your story should be about 1,500 words, or about 4-5 pages double- spaced. (This is just a guide.) Remember what you have learned thus far. AP style will count, as will grammar. Think about your lead, your nutgraf, your story structure. You should write it thinking that it is going to be published in a newspaper.

Most of all, have fun!!!




(I drop your grade one letter every day your paper is later; I refuse the paper completely after 4 days)

Rewriting: I will generally accept rewrites of your story assignments at any time during the semester. I will only accept one rewrite a week. The rewrite must be significant, incorporating my suggestions as well as your own editing. I consider the rewrite along with the original and give you a new grade to replace the original. I reserve the right to reject a rewrite when the minimum requirements had not been met in the original paper. You will never receive a grade on a rewrite that is lower than the original.

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