There are plenty of subtle differences between types of news stories – and as a discerning reader, or professional writer – knowing these subtleties helps the writer to maintain high standards and offers a better reading experience for the audience…
With New Journalism blurring the lines between ‘hard news’ and ‘personal opinion’ it can be difficult to work out where the facts end and the fiction begins – particularly when our front page headline stories now share primary real estate with opinion pieces.
Here’s a quick list to differentiate types of news stories to help the ready stay savvy, and the writer stay professional –
- Soft News – has a strong news element which is prominent at the beginning of the story, but is treated in a lighter way, based on factual information and direct quotes. There is however, more descriptive language, which often features humour in the introduction.
- News Features – are usually longer than a straight news story, the news angle is dominant and topical, and features plenty of direct quotes, descriptions, background historical information and eye-witness reports.
- Timeless Features – does not have a specific news angle, with the special interest being on the subject, object or an event.
- Background Preview Features – sets the scenes for an event that is about to happen.
- Colour Features – are long form articles up to 2,000 words, that don’t have a strong news angle, and primarily focus on description, eye-witness reporting, quotes and factual details.
- Eye-witness observational features – are written in first person – from the journalists POV – which will include descriptions, conversations, interviews, personal opinion and jokes.
- Sketch Features – are generally very opinionated, highly colourful language, usually reserved for Parliamentary reporting.
- Opinion and/or Blog Pieces – have a strong emphasis on the journalist’s private views and experiences. It is often idiosyncratic, controversial and is often the convention used by gossip columnists.
- Diary items – are very short, light-hearted gossip news items grouped together under a single by-line.
- Feature Profiles – can either be subjective or objective, long-form stories about individuals, usually based from an interview of a subject, and of associated peoples of the subject being written about.
- Vox pop – is a collection of quotes from the general public on topical issues – quotes are usually accompanied with headshots to add ‘legitimacy’ to the quote.
- Reviews – often include descriptions and critical assessments of another’s work (i.e. film art, TV, products etc).
- Lifestyle Features – are essentially ‘advice columns’, which generally includes indirect and direct quotes from ‘qualified’ sources on various subjects (e.g. health, education, dieting, fashion etc).
- Editorials – are commentary written on behalf of the ‘masthead publication’. It is usually presented in different font, with no by-line and is written by the Editor.
Happy news consumption, and production folks!