The Gap State High School English Department 2008

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The Gap State High School

English Department

2008

Unit: Making news and novel study

Assessment: Feature article

Writing your own feature article

“I, of course, feel that features are an invaluable part of the newspaper, and that's for several reasons: 1. They can often be an entertaining part of an otherwise tragedy-filled, government-filled publication. People look to us to lighten the load a bit, and we can do that. 2. Unlike most news stories, features are pretty flexible as to their approach, so you'll find some of the best writing in the newspaper in the features section. 3. You never know what to expect. A centrepiece could be about Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, or it could be an in-depth look at the survivor of a horrible illness. It's that element of surprise that makes the pages interesting to turn to.”


Alec Harvey, features editor, The Birmingham (Ala.) News


Read the following explanation about feature articles and answer the questions inside the text boxes in your workbook. Use full and complete sentences.


Purpose of Feature Writing

A feature story is different from a straight news story in one respect – its intent. A news story provides information about an event, idea or situation. The feature does a bit more – it may also interpret news, add depth and colour to a story, instruct or entertain.

T
1. What is the main difference between a news story and a feature article?

2. What is the goal or purpose of a feature article?


he goal of feature writing is this: to highlight a specific person, place or thing in greater detail than breaking news stories or summary news reports can offer. Features often bring a news story that is large in scope – say, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 – down to a more personal level that readers can better identify with – say, a mother who lost her son in the World Trade Centre.

What do readers get out of feature stories?
As stated before, feature stories can help readers better understand and sympathise with news that seems larger than life. Features can connect something that happens in Federal Government with its effects on the people of a suburb like The Gap by highlighting a single person or group of people. In short, features make gargantuan stories easier to take in.
Also, feature stories are entertaining. Not all news has to be boring or gruesome. In fact, something like featuring the local high school football team and its perfect record can provide welcome relief to a town suffering from economic woes or other tragedy.

Feature stories are also informative. They are included in the newspaper for a reason: they are newsworthy items. A feature on the new mayor, his or her background and his or her plans for governing can go a long way toward making the community more aware of the person and how he or she will lead the city.

3. What three benefits do readers gain from reading a feature article?




Top Tips for Writing Feature Articles


  • Focus on human interest - the feel and emotion you put into the article are critical. Don't think about writing a "science" story - think about writing a "human interest" story.




  • Be clear about why you are writing the article. Is it to inform, persuade, observe, evaluate, or evoke emotion?




  • Accuracy is important - you can interpret and embroider but not fudge. This means you will have to research the social issue you will discuss.




  • Keep your audience clearly in mind - what are their desires, what really matters to them?

Language of a Feature Article

  • Write in the active voice. In active writing, people do things. Passive sentences often have the person doing the action at the end of the sentence or things being done “by” someone. For example:

Passive: Theo and Jackie are the winners of the swimming competition.

Active: Theo and Jackie won the swimming competition.




  • Decide on the ‘tense' of your story at the start and stick to it. Present tense usually works best.



  • Don't rely on the computer spell-checker - especially those with a U.S. dictionary.





  • Avoid lengthy, complex paragraphs. Short paragraphs work best in newspapers; two to four sentences per paragraph is a good guide. Remember, all the sentences in a paragraph should be about one idea or topic!




  • V
    4. When writing why should you vary or change the length of your sentences?

    ary the length of your sentences. This keeps your reader interested and demonstrates your ability to use different sentence structures. Remember to use conjunctions, such as: for, and, but, yet, or, both, neither, either, after, while, although, because, even if.




Structure of a Feature Article

A feature article is constructed with a ‘lead’ (beginning), a ‘body’ (middle that elaborates) and a ‘tail’ (ending).



5. What are the three sections that make up a feature article?




Leads

A successful lead will accomplish three objectives:



  • Attract the reader; entice your reader; hook them in. Use drama, emotion, quotations, questions, descriptions

  • Give the reader the central idea

  • Lead the reader into the story

When deciding how effective a particular article is, first consider what type of lead is being used:



  • Summary – key elements of story, but this is better suited to a newspaper article;

  • Description – highlights senses of reader to make them feel like they’ve been at an event;

  • Direct address – asking reader questions or asking reader to imagine something in particular
  • Striking statement – something that will produce a strong response in the reader by challenging accepted belief (e.g. statistics are good here)


  • Narrative – a short piece from the writers own life e.g. anecdote or description of scene

  • Quotation – a relevant and effective quotation that will introduce reader to the article’s theme

  • H
    6. Which type of lead do you believe would be best for your feature article?
    umour – if the article has a humorous side to it, perhaps a joke or funny anecdote would be appropriate

Body

Good transitions in feature article writing mean that one paragraph flows smoothly into the next. This is the body of your feature article. The body of the article needs to keep any promises or answer any questions raised in the introduction. These answers should be backed up with facts and quotes from experts.


Your body must include factual details of the issue, as well as examples from the novel you are studying. Names, times, places, and events should be outlined in detail. You must quote from a ‘witness’ or source. Remember this can be a quote you make up, as long as it is appropriate for the character and is based on what you think the characters would say in the novel.
The two Dimensions of Learning activities (constructing support and analysing perspectives) that will look at in class will help you develop the detail you need for the body of your feature article.


7. Why do you think it is important to be accurate and research the issue you are writing about? Think about the purpose of feature articles when you write your answer.

Tail

The conclusion often connects with an idea that has been developed in the lead, or it can in some way summarise the main points of the article. You could use different ideas from the lead to conclude your article. The tail should be written to help the reader remember the story. Use a strong final sentence.

Fill in the following inverted pyramid with the structure of a feature article.





S

tructure and Language Analysis of a Feature Article



Ugly Duckling

Karen Brooks Article from:

August 15, 2007 12:00am

A

RECENT survey into drug, sex and surgery trends among 4000 girls aged 11-18 produced some alarming results.

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his is before we even consider how appropriate it is to be asking this chronologically diverse group the same questions.

But it seems we've arrived at a moment in society where 11-year-olds are as likely to be depressed, sexually active, have dysmorphic body image, be experimenting with drugs (including alcohol), as their much older counterparts.

A


ge compression has come, well, of age. Of the 4000 questioned by Dolly magazine, 80 girls revealed they'd had cosmetic surgery.

What this surgery consisted of is not revealed, though the most common operations performed on Australian teenagers are breast augmentations, reductions, nose jobs and liposuction.

A

quarter of the girls also confessed that they'd get surgery if they could.

D

oesn't this desire to change their appearance suggest that there's something grossly out of proportion, not in young women, but in society?

W

e live in a world where so-called ugly ducklings can become swans.


Not because their differences are re-contextualised as something extraordinary to be valued and appreciated in their own right, but because through surgery we can all be swans.

E

xposed to a plethora of before and after makeover shows, photo shoots in newspapers, magazines and billboards, as well as medical tourism, we're being persuaded that if we don't fit the beauty mould, it's in our best interests (and, with loan schemes sometimes attached, financial capacity) to transform ourselves.

I

nstead of being represented as potentially dangerous, expensive and as altering a person's exterior only, surgical and other makeovers are contextualised as fairytale experiences that have the power to alter our destiny.

According to Alex Kuczynski, in her book, Beauty Junkies, in the US in 2004, almost 12 million surgical and non-surgical procedures were performed.

While we're not as quick to nip and tuck as Americans, there's been a steady rise in cosmetic surgery in Australia too.

Along with older generations, young people have fallen for the hard-hitting sales pitch.

T

he one that many doctors and marketers deliver with zeal: that surgery isn't, as Kuczynski writes, as "crass as mere cutting and suturing; it is merely part of the journey towards self-enhancement, the beauty outside reflecting the beauty within".

Or it's sold as a cure for deep-rooted psychological and self-esteem issues.

From traditional myths and fairytales to popular TV and movies, beauty (in men and women) is firmly aligned with goodness and physical imperfection with "bad".

In this day and age this morality tale continues, only now we have the power, through surgical metamorphosis, to change our role.

B


ut we're remaking ourselves in a mass-market image, one that promises us external happiness.

And we're literally buying it, making the beauty industry, with its lotions, potions and prosthetics, and its pedlars, one of the most lucrative in the world.

I

t doesn't help that celebrity bodies, with their "perfect" physical attributes, usually tied to a range of "must-have" products, are the false (photo-shopped) gods who set the standards by which we try to look.

When these gorgeous people voluntarily step down from their gilded pedestal and join the ranks of the physically ordinary, such as Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron in The Hours and Monster respectively, we award them an Oscar.

It seems as though they "suffered" for their art.

Even Paul Potts, the quiet and modest winner of Britain's Got Talent, has felt pressured to conform to certain aesthetic standards.

H



e used a portion of his £100,000 ($240,000) prize to have his crooked teeth fixed.

Teeth that, as he sang his glorious arias, endeared him to audiences, reassured them that beauty came in an ordinary body with a mellifluous voice and shy, crooked smile.

Y

et again, the marketing machine has done its work.

Success is contingent on a stereotypical physical standard.

W


hile we've always sought to emulate the looks of the rich and famous, whether it's Farrah Fawcett's or Jennifer Aniston's hair, or the elegance of Audrey Hepburn, allowing ourselves to be mutilated to achieve the breasts of Pamela Anderson speaks of an overt shift in the human psyche.

F

rom "breastivals" to raise money for breast implants, to a $10,000 competition in Zoo Weekly in which "one lucky reader" can give his girlfriend with "the ultimate present", pneumatic breasts are fast becoming if not best, then certainly naturalised.

K

uczynski says it's as if we have "elevated artifice above humanity and the look of the fake over the natural contours of the authentic".

A

lready caught in a vicious cycle of judging and being judged, young people need adult role models who can demonstrate that while beauty might be something we appreciate, it's also, in this material world, fleeting.

Valuing others for who they are, not what they look like, should be something we foster and nourish.

If we don't, then we're certain to be carving a future generation in our narcissistic image.












Read the following example of a student’s feature article from last year.

Complete a PMI: write one positive thing about the article; one thing that could have been improved; and one aspect or part you found interesting.



1. Read the following feature article.

2. Highlight any facts or opinions that would have come as a result of research.

3. Underline (or use a different colour highlighter) anything that came from the novel, particularly characters and events.





Scaffolding for feature article: part 1
My feature article will be about:
Eg. Refugees or bullying

Examples from the novel that I could use include:


Page number

Information and / or quote (make sure you put quotation marks around the words you take from the novel)


p. 17

The novel talks about the large number of refugees that are travelling along the roads leaving Poland.

p. 44

Alex sees graffiti in the boys’ toilets about his sister Sam and confronts the girls he believes are spreading rumours.
























































Research:


Text
(bibliographic details)

Notes

(information including quotes and statistics that are necessary for your article)

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (2007) Displaced Persons. Available at:

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005462



 




1945 to 1952, more than 250,000 Jewish displaced persons lived in camps and urban centres in Germany, Austria, and Italy.


































DOL – Constructing Support


  • Identify whether you are stating facts or opinions.




  • If you are stating an opinion determine whether the situation warrants support.




  • When the situation warrants it, construct a supportive argument through the use of facts, evidence, examples or appeals.




DOL - Analysing Perspectives



Issue / Topic



Scaffolding for feature article: part 2
There are 5 parts to your feature article that you will need to write.


  1. Headline

  2. By line

  3. Lead paragraph

  4. Body

  5. Tail

Fill in the table below to help you complete your feature article. Don’t forget you only have 400 words, so make sure every word counts!




Part of feature article

Rough draft


Headline: main idea in story; very few words; catches readers’ attention. Large, bold font.






By line: a sentence or two introducing the journalist.






Lead paragraph: includes who, what, when, where and why of your story. Use short sentences and simple, clear language. First word should be in capitals.





Body:
Most important detail first.
Includes research (statistics and quotes from experts) and support from the novel (events and characters).

You need to include names, times, places and events outlined in detail. Quotes from a witness, source or expert.





Tail:
Minor details of the story.
No conclusion.
End with a quote or comment that provide a solution to the issue in your article.






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