Feature journalism can be treated like a genre of journalism. Although, there are types within this term such as those conducted in an interview style, profile, lifestyle, opinion columns and news features. It is defined by dictionary.com as “a newspaper or magazine article or report of a person,event, an aspect of a major event, or the like, often having a personal slant and written in an individual style”. It is also considered as the most prominent story in say, a magazine.
Upon first glance many writing enthusiasts would sigh and think of more rules, more guidelines and more boundaries to be drawn from their writing expectation. Except this is a mistaken view. There seems to be a craze forming and becoming a feature journalist is seemingly more desirable (Steenson, 2009). Truth is, feature writing does not have one clear-cut rule. Although, there are some generalities journalists prefer to use such as, the inverted pyramid which is closely followed for news stories. However, it is important to remember that feature articles differ from typical news stories. A feature attempts to add depth and colour to a subject, whereas news stories should be objective and informative. This does not mean that the writer hasn’t done as much homework as your average reporter. In fact, probably more, because a feature intends to grab the readers attention through using anecdotes and quotes.
What are you waiting for?
Patterson (1986, cited by, Garrison 2009) outlines three basic rules for feature writing; firstly have a character, secondly develop a narrative within the piece and allow the reader to visualise it for themselves. He claims that most features have these elements in common and emphasises the importance of the engagement factor- using an active voice. Bleyer (1913) agrees that feature writing should be like a miniature story and also believes there is no definitive guidelines for its treatment. I agree with this statement and feel that everybody has an individualistic writing style, if this is incorporated in the feature there is a more personal touch that readers can identify and relate to.
Of course, nowadays there are many more opportunities for feature writing in the online world. From the Guardian website to personal web blogs like this we are surrounded by such opportunities. So my take on all this feature business: get writing!! About anything and everything that you are passionate about, put it into words and captivate your readers.
Get to grips with the basics
Media law, also known as Entertainment law, is a subject that every aspiring journalist should be clued-up about. Although, you may not realise journalists face some pretty heavy penalties for a slip on the keyboard. Media ethics deal with the likes of television broadcasting, film, music, publishing, advertising, internet and new media. I am particularly interested in rules I will have to abide by, in regards to blogging. Many bloggers are unaware that they need to comply with any kind of regulations, but we aren’t immune from the punishments of breaking media laws. Fact is, publishing a blog exposes the blogger to legal risk, as anyone can file a lawsuit regardless of merit.
- Defamation is defined as a false remark or statement that adversely affects the character or reputation of another. Libel and Slander are the forms in which defamation can take place. Libel involve defamation through publishing. Whereas, Slander is spoken defamation of character. Reporters and bloggers cannot publish anything they want, rumour, inuendo and gossip should generally be avoided. The dangers of crossing the line could lead to injuring ones reputation and exposing them to disgrace, shame or hatred.
- Contempt of court; the 1981 act ensures that journalists do not publish any details of an ongoing court case that may reflect any bias. The individual charged allows only have certain information publicised about them, in order to protect them until they have faced a fair trial.
- Privacy and human rights goes hand-in-hand with contempt of court, in the sense that privacy must be respected. There may often be sensitive stories within the media, that members involved (for example, family or close friends) would not like to be in the media spotlight. Therefore, the privacy law protects the publics right to privacy. In regards to children under the age of 18, their details must be protected unless they have permission from a parent or guardian.
- Intellectual property rights in accordance with journalism refer mostly to copyrighting. An article you may write can be replicated or an idea if copyright laws are not acquired. Freelance journalists often suffer, because they may pitch an idea to a magazine and incorporate it without your commission. Dan Roberts had this issue, however found out from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) governor James Thompson that “It’s only when the work is in writing that copyright automatically protects it.” There are ways around it as Thompson recommends.
Do not, by any means be intimidated by these laws. Remember we live in the day of freedom of speech, so just skim over these as an act of caution and get blogging!
Journalism. Defined as; the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business (Dictionary.com, 2011). The aspect I am most interested in is writing, which is why I have opted for the News and Journalism unit in the final year of my studies at Bournemouth University. Journalism is a career path that I would like to explore once I have graduated, therefore I will find this unit extremely valuable to me in the future.
In this unit I will gain adequate knowledge of the industry. For example; objectivity is an extremely important factor in the world of journalism and could be the difference of the company and yourself bein sued. Gaining insight into working in the newsroom environment will be beneficial.
I have a passion for writing, which I have developed from a young age and have decided to continue into not just my degree but my career. Ideally, I would like to enter the music or film journalism, but I would also like to keep my options open to explore other avenues as well.