The terms ‘news’ and ‘features’ are common currency in our business.
We use them all the time.
Recently, though, a client asked for clarification on the difference between a news piece and a feature.
Good question, I thought.
In fact, such a good question that I should share the answer.
News… as it happens
News pieces tend to relay factual information on events or activities that have just happened, and do so as quickly as possible.
They tend to stick to the information readers will either need to know or want to know. As news pieces report in this manner, they tend to get to the point and stick to the facts.
They start with the most important information…the five Ws (and one H) as they are known. Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. They then add information in order of importance. If space is short (for either online or in print publications) they are edited from the bottom upwards, thus protecting the most important information. Readers are spared additional description or ‘fluff’. Adjectives or detailed descriptions are sparse.
Features focus in.
Features are a different beast.
They are often written after the events they cover, providing the reader with more information about a particular aspect of the event, or giving them an insight on the issue from a different perspective or viewpoint.
News features are simply feature pieces written about an event or issue which is in the news.
So, when you are thinking about what type of piece to write, ask yourself whether readers already know about the issue or event in question. If they don’t, then a news piece is required. If they do, then consider writing a feature.
The mistake people make, though, is thinking that news pieces are always short and features are longer. This is not necessarily so.
News pieces aim to convey information quickly. There are therefore usually quite short and direct, although they do not have to be. Likewise, because features are often written after an event, they are aimed at readers who want to know more and broaden their understanding. They therefore lend themselves to a longer format.
The difference between news and features is therefore more about the role of the piece: what type of information it relays to the reader and what the reader will learn, rather than how long it is.
If you need help writing news and features, contact us. We’d be happy to help.