Tomorrow’s newspaper in New York is a very different beast! With the increasing availability of instant news and information 24/7, the ‘news’ part of newspapers is rapidly morphing. If I want to know who did what when or what today’s big issue is, whether that be globally, nationally or locally, I have a seemingly unlimited choice of instant news services from which to choose. Even my old mobile phone grants me immediate internet access, meaning keeping up with the Jones’s has never been easier.
So why do we still have newspapers in New York ? Everyone knows that circulation is plummeting, but a few of us die-hards believe there will always be print. Why? Because it is comfortable. The Y-Gens are still buying their magazines and books because they also enjoy that relaxing slump on the couch with a drink, snacks and an engaging read. The operative word here of course is engaging!
When writing a feature story, one of the first things you must consider is the target audience. Is it for the general public or is it for a specific group of readers? If you are writing for the readers of a lifestyle magazine or for the lifestyle section in the newspaper, for example, you would need to consider whether you should write from the view of a third person or second?
Most feature stories are written from the third person. Exceptions where the second person is used instead is when the story is about 'what you should get', say, for an occasion or a festive season. Seldom is the first person used for feature writing except when the author is the narrating his or her own experience.
Take for example the first paragraph of a feature story on entrepreneurship written in the third person:
- John lost his job two years ago due to the economy downturn. Believing it to be only temporary, he actively seeks employment while upgrading his skills through short-term courses. Today, he is still unemployed. Now at the age of 41, he is forced to consider self-employment and entrepreneurship but is hesitant because he has been an employee his entire working life.
If this first paragraph is written in the second person, it would read:
- You have been an employee your entire working life. Two years ago, you lost your job due to the economy downturn. Believing the downturn to be only temporary, you actively seek employment while upgrading your skills through short-term courses. Today, you are still unemployed.
As you can read from the two approaches, the third person's voice draws the readers into the story better than the second person because there is no need for personal involvement in the story unless it is a call to action. It works fine to use the second person if you are writing for a lifestyle magazine showcasing shopping goods, but not quite fine for a news feature story that aims to convey a message containing facts and advices.
When writing for a news feature story, four components should be considered: anecdotes, quotes, facts, and statements of theme.
An anecdote in a news feature story should be written from a third person as the narrator. The purpose of this is to use content 'pull' to attract readers to a sense of reading a novel or a storybook. For a feature story to be successful, at least one anecdote should be included to help readers visualize the 'reality' of a situation or the life of the person being told in the anecdote.
A feature should also include facts and quotes for angles of human interest. Facts may be research finding that quantify the content of the story, official statistical figures, or actual events witnessed by people:
- According to official figures from the manpower department, unemployment is now at 4.5 percent.
Quotes are actual account of events by witnesses or spoken comments of people interviewed. Quotes can be direct or indirect. For a feature story to be credible and interesting, both direct and indirect quotes are necessary.
A direct quote is the actual spoken words by persons interviewed:
- "I have been an employee my entire working life," said John Doe, 41, a retrenched worker.
An indirect quote is a paraphrased or rephrased writing of actual words spoken by persons interviewed:
- John Doe, 41, said he has been an employee his entire working life.
Statements of theme are sentences that links original theme of the story to various parts of the feature. This is especially useful when there are multiple sections or story points that need to be expanded in different areas of the feature. The objective of statements of theme is to draw the readers back to the main theme of the story.
The feature story is usually written with each paragraph pulling the readers forward to read on to the point of closure or a conclusion or instructions to proceed further. It is usual to end the story by drawing the readers' attention back to the points being told at the lead paragraph, but with added knowledge on the subject.
When internet was opened for residential customers, a lot of companies and individuals have gotten so much benefits from it; companies were able to reach worldwide consumers without spending so much and more individuals were given opportunities to become known worldwide. Most importantly, people are able to read updated news online.
Others would even join in news forums to have latest news delivered to their email. In short, the Internet is far better than the conventional newspaper. Here are some of the reasons why;
#1. Newspapers are so slow - you will be able to read today's news tomorrow morning when the morning is delivered to your doorstep while internet can broadcast the news real-time without having you to wait for another 12 hours to know the details. More often, papers do not offer the full details of the news because they have to conserve space for ads.
#2. They have chaotic references - the front page contains almost all of the breaking news, at least you will be able to read the snippets and have a hard time looking for it in the inside pages. The Internet, however, can eliminate such hassle with a single click of the mouse. Besides, you don't have to turn the pages to be able to read.
#3. Articles are static - all of the articles printed in newspapers cannot be updated unlike the ones in the web. If you need updates on the same article, you should pray that the same story will be featured on the next day's publication. Newscasters or journalists over the internet can easily edit their articles or add updates anytime.
#4. Articles are not unique - mostly, articles on papers are rewrites or plain copies of what has already been published over the Internet. This means that newspapers today get their stories online. It's good if you really are not dependent on the internet that you need to read the papers. However, most of the people nowadays browse the net more often than holding newspapers.
The fact is, there are still millions of people who are subscribing to receive their morning papers. These people may have already developed a habit of holding the papers while having a sip of their coffee. While there could be no solid explanation, it could be understood that most of news paper readers are aged people, or those who do not know how to operate a computer.
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