Feature Writing: Different Types of Features

News Backgrounder

  • A background to the news.
  • Usually 600 words in length.
  • Offer added information, insight, explanation and colour to a news piece that may have been 250 words long on the front page of the newspaper.
  • May consider other linked/similar events.


  • Looks behind the scenes of an event to focus on something unusual or entertaining.
  • Colour doesn’t mean more colourful writing – don’t overuse metaphors, cliches or adjectives.
  • Example: a colour piece on a royal visit could comment on the cars, the fashion and conversations between majesties and local people (adds human interest).


Follow-Up Feature

  • Not usually published the same day as the news story, often in the few days after instead.
  • Can mark anniversaries.
  • Example: Event where people died in a train crash. The follow-up could be a year after marking the anniversary and may include interviews and quotes about how the survivors are coping, how families are coping with the loss of their loved ones, how the surrounding area has dealt with it, whether a new trainline had to be created etc.

Leader Page

  • Usually a column made up of a few separate comment pieces on important news issues that day.
  • Generally written by the editor or specialist leader writer.
  • The leader will reflect the opinions of the paper and not the voice of the individual.


Profiling the Celebrity

  • Involves personalities and celebrities who have done something new or interesting.
  • Gives the feature writer a chance to meet all types of people not usually available to the general public.
  • You are only getting a snapshot of your interviewee (often to promote a film, CD or event).
  • Always try to illicit something new from your interviewee (they will probably be regaling the same few stories to all the journalists they meet that week – you want something different).

Profiling the Not-So-Famous

  • Often portraits of unique individuals either completing something for the community, had something huge happen in their lives or have an unusual obsession.
  • People with passion provide fascinating stories.

Specialist Features

  • Concentrate on particular subjects (sport, health, lifestyle).
  • Usually written by a specialist correspondent.

Speaking Personally

  • Written by a journalist, often a guest writer.
  • Serious or funny, caustic or witty, whimsical or straight to the point.
  • Part of the newspaper’s personality.
  • Never write a self-opinionated rant (not worth the time or space).



  • PR departments will often send copies of CD’s, tickets for events and products to publications for review.
  • You are not obligated to say something nice, if something truly isn’t good, just because you got a freebie.
  • Be honest in your appraisal.


  • Advertising or special features.
  • Written in the style of an editorial but paid for by the advertiser.
  • Be objective, honest and accurate – don’t let the fact the advertiser is paying for the feature sway what you would normally write.
  • Look for the best angle, intro and line – like with any other feature.
  • Accept that the advertiser may want to change things but explain that the tone of the subject must fit the newspaper you’re writing for too.
I DO NOT OWN THE ABOVE IMAGES, THEY ARE FROM: http://www.popsugar.com.au/celebrity/photo-gallery/28760261/image/28760224/Kate-Middleton-inspected-tube-car-during-royal-visit and http://pvc.ru/projects/pro-vision-digital-zapustil-novuyu-kommunikatsionnuyu-kampaniyu-coral-travel-v-internete/.
(The third image was gained from a website currently under review so the link was unavailable).

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