News Writing and Reporting – Feature Assignment 9/25

Writing a Profile News Story

Writing a profile story (a type of feature) requires the ability to tell a story with the expectation of contextualizing the story for a broader audience. As you write your profile consider not just the angle of the story but how the individual’s experience relates to our shared human experience. Did the individual overcome an obstacle? Is the person incredibly optimistic? Did the individual redefine a sport?

Remember: You are not writing a biography;  a detailed description of person’s life.  A profile is a highlight of an individual’s life within the larger context of an entertaining, interesting or illuminating story.

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In class, we’ve discussed, viewed,and read a variety of profiles. Today, we looked at the 60-minutes profile on Michael Jackon’s brand after his death and we watched Kaylee Hartung’s profile of Garrett Graff the 28 year-old executive editor of  “The Washingtonian”.The inverted pyramid is not required for this type of article. However, you still need to provide who, what, where, when and how.

For this assignment, due on September 30, you will:

1. Select a person for your profile.

2. Identify the angle of your story.

Ask yourself:

a) What, specifically, makes this person special and unique to a broad audience?

b) What is surprising, useful, or important?

c) You must help answer the reader’s biggest question about ANY story… why should  the reader care?

3) Write a strong headline to attract interest and attention.

4) Research the individual (in most cases you would personally interview the individual).

5) Write a 1,000 word article.

a) Be descriptive in your writing.

b) Include quotes.

c) Provide context (tell us why it is important)

6) Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit.

7) Include a picture of the individual. The picture should capture the essence of your story.

8) Post your article to your blog (click on create new blog post).


In addition to what we’ve discussed in class, I’ve included two additional resources.

Click here for an overview of profile stories  from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.

Click here for How to Write a Profile Feature Article from the New York Times.

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Dr. Gina Marcello is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, Graphic Design & Multimedia at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, NJ.