There are five story types to pitch for The Collegian: News, Opinion, Feature, Entertainment and Sports.
These are stories that are fact based, contain neutral language, offer both sides and are unbias in nature. These are stories that typically start with a lede addressing one or more of the following: who, what, where, when, why and/or how. A writer must cite sources for all information included. Paragraphs are typically one sentence long. Structure is tight, with precise language being preferred over long-ish sentence and flowery words.
These stories are written concisely, with special attention paid to use of language. No loaded words or phrases, or anything resembling opinion should be included.
News stories are the tightest written stories you will write.
These stories are the only ones in the paper where the word “I” should be used. Opinion stories are easy to write badly. Just saying you hate something isn’t enough. Opinion should include thoughtful analysis of the topic you choose, with sources to back up your opinion. Sound opinion stories will also include counter viewpoints and answer questions that the opposition would likely bring up.
These are stories that are personal to you, but be careful about ostracizing your reader by making them too personal. Good opinion stories will get your feelings across without having to use the “I.”
Feature stories are similar in structure to news stories, but often contain more wordplay and creative prose.
Feature stories focus on topics that are newsworthy, but maybe don’t have a news “peg” at that very moment. Instead these are what we call “evergreens” in the industry. These stories are characterized by delayed-style ledes, which typically wrap the lede to the ending paragraph or quote. It follows a “kabob” style of writing.
Feature stories also typically have art that draws people into the page. The topics that get pitched are ones about “slice of life” topics, things that are important, but do not elevate to the news level.
These stories often include more detailed style writing, with longer paragraphs of two to three sentences.
These stories are often broken into supported opinion and feature style writing.
Supported-opinion stories are when you have an opinion about a topic and use sources to support that opinion. You would not use the word “I” in these pieces, instead using the flow and tone of your writing to convey your message.
Feature-style writing again reflects a more detail-oriented approach to journalism. The topics change from regular feature to entertainment writing, but the writing style doesn’t.
This style of writing is broken into support opinion, feature style and game coverage.
A supported-opinion sports story is one where you discuss a specific topic, while allowing outside voices to move it along.
Feature-style writing is particularly good for pieces where you want to focus on something with athletics as part of it, but not a game or a immediate event.
Game coverage, or a “gamer,” is a story that is about a sporting event only, with no feature or opinion details. A gamer is the news story of sports.
The basic expectations for ALL Collegian stories are:
- Include a three-source minimum. All of the sources should not be Internet based. You should aim to have live interviews with at least two of the three sources
- Be truthful. You need to make sure your stories include the truth, to be the best of your ability.
- Not include bias, unless it’s an opinion story. Remember your job is to provide the facts and let the reader interpret the message.
- Be written to the best of your ability. You will get better over time. You will learn to remove bias. Do your best.