Feature Writing: The Pursuit of Excellence

Edward Jay Friedlander / John Lee  
Total pages
November 2013
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Using experience-driven advice and compelling articles from scores of newspaper, magazine and online writers, Feature Writing shows how award-winning journalists achieve excellence and national recognition.

The Seventh Edition helps the reader cultivate vital journalistic skills through detailed coverage on creating and refining article ideas, conducting research and interviews, writing, and navigating legal and ethical questions. World-class writing examples from Pulitzer Prize feature writers, extensive updates, and timely tips from some of America's best feature writers have made this the premier book in its field for more than three decades.


  • Combines clear explanations of each step in the writing process with a wide range of stories from some of the country's best newspaper, magazine and online feature writers.
  • Accompanies every writing example with a careful analysis of the author's writing technique.
  • Provides biographies of award-winning journalists and case history comments and writing tips from the writers themselves.
  • Includes coverage of the libel and privacy laws and ethical considerations important to every potential newspaper and magazine writer in search of true excellence.

New to this Edition

  • An increased emphasis on online feature writing includes a thoroughly revised examination of Internet-assisted research and looks at the burgeoning new market for freelance writers—Internet writing.

  • Includes biographies of three new Pulitzer winners for feature writing—Andrea Elliott of The New York Times (2007), Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post Magazine (2008 and 2010), the only two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, and Lane DeGregory of the St. Petersburg Times (2009)—in Chapter 1.
  • Examines a new Pulitzer Prize–winning multimedia feature article by Weingarten in Chapter 2. As with all writing examples in this book, articles and excerpts are accompanied by a careful analysis of the authors’ writing techniques.
  • Adds invaluable case-history comments and writing aids from several new Pulitzer winners—Lane DeGregory, in particular—in Chapters 5 and 6.
  • Expands discussion about the multimedia journalism potential for the three Pulitzer Prize–winning stories featured in Chapter 7, as well as an exploration of the multimedia used to present the 2006 Pulitzer Prize–winning feature story.



  • Table of Contents

    CHAPTER one

    The Newspaper Feature Story 

    The Feature: Helen’s Story  

    An Overview  

    Newspaper Feature Story Types: News and Timeless Features  

    Categories and Appeals  

    Newspaper Feature Writers: The Right Stuff  

    A Profile of the Pulitzer Winners  

    The Anatomy of a Newspaper Feature Story  

    “Mrs. Kelly’s Monster”  

    by Jon Franklin of the Baltimore Evening Sun

    A Pulitzer Prize Winner

    The Future: Trends in Newspaper Feature Writing  


    The Newspaper Feature Story Idea  

    What Newspaper Readers Want to Read  

    How to Get Ideas  

    Focusing Ideas  

    Ideas That Didn’t Work  

    Ideas That Worked  

    “Life on the Land: An American Farm Family”  

    “Life on the Land: An American Farm Family”  

    by John Camp of the St. Paul Pioneer Press

    A Pulitzer Prize Winner

    “Pearls Before Breakfast”  


    by Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post Magazine

    A Pulitzer Prize Winner

    CHAPTER Three

    The Magazine Article and Article Idea  

    How a Magazine Article Differs from a Newspaper Feature  

    Staff Writer Versus Freelancer  

    Three Necessary Skills for the Freelance Writer  

    Stalking the Elusive Article Idea  

    Matching Ideas to Markets  

    “Like Something the Lord Made”  

    by Katie McCabe for The Washingtonian

    A National Magazine Award Winner

    “Death of a Playmate”  

    by Teresa Carpenter for The Village Voice

    A Pulitzer Prize Winner

    Taking the Next Step  

    CHAPTER four

    Researching for Newspaper Feature Stories and Magazine Articles  

    Newspaper Reference Rooms AND COMPUTER FILES  

    Magazine Reference Resources  

    Computerized Research  

    Using Search Engines and Directories  


      On the Decline of Print Journalism

      Freelancing for the Internet

    Turning Research into the Finished Article  


    by Joe Brancatelli

    “WHy we hate the airlines and lobve diet coke”  

    by Joe Brancatelli


    CHAPTER five

    Interviewing for Newspaper Feature Stories and Magazine Articles  

    Kinds of Interviews  

    Getting Ready to Interview  

    Who to Interview  

    Asking for the Interview  

    Persuading People Who Don’t Want to Talk  

    When and Where to Interview  

    Researching the Interviewee  

    Conducting the Personal Interview  

    Making Friends  

    Asking Questions  

    Attribution Guidelines  

    Gathering Material  

    Fixing Quotes  


    Excerpt from “The Boy Behind the Mask”  

    by Tom Hallman Jr. of The Oregonian

    A Pulitzer Prize Winner

    Excerpt from “Crossing Over”  

    by J. R. Moehringer of The Los Angeles Times

    A Pulitzer Prize Winner

    Closing the Session  

    The Interview Story  

     “Zepp’s Last Stand”  

    by Madeleine Blais of The Miami Herald

    A Pulitzer Prize Winner

    CHAPTER six

    Writing the Newspaper Feature Story  

    Beginning the Process  

    Story Structure  

    Writing the Lead  

    A Dozen Lead Categories  

    Excerpt from “Angels and Demons”  

    by Tom French of the St. Petersburg Times

    A Pulitzer Prize Winner

    Excerpt from “How Super Are Our Supercarriers?R