Intro to features and longer stories

Photo: zetson/flickr, some rights reserved

Classwork for this week:

Take a look at a few examples of non-fiction writing or extended audio or video features (please see the resources below, or of course you may choose your own). Draw up lists which will show how each story differs in respect to the following elements:

  • story purpose
  • audience types and requirements
  • style
  • any links between word length or duration, style, audience, publication, and purpose
  • note especially how each story opens, and how it ends (very different from the inverted pyramid story)
  • other elements, such as photographs, illustrations, captions, supers, subtitles, headlines, and standfirsts (a ‘standfirst’ is a short paragraph that outlines the story to come)


Trent Dalton, The Australian – Islanders’ Deadly Inheritance

Chris Solomon, – Feet Lost and Found in the Pacific Northwest

Ruth Pollard, The Sydney Morning Herald – Grief grips Gaza

N.R. Kleinfeld, The New York Times – The Lonely Death of George Bell

Jon Ronson, The Guardian – Justin Bieber: One day with the most Googled name on the planet

The Electric Typewriter – 10 great articles by Tom Junod (read especially ‘Falling Man’)

Another one by Tom Junod, Esquire Magazine – Have you met The Lips?

Sarah Dingle, ABC Radio National – The Salvos: A matter of trust (.mp3 download link is above the image)

ABC Radio National – Researchers fear our sense of silence is changing as our daily noise builds

BBC News Magazine – The girl who gets gifts from birds

upstart magazine – 100 articles that every journalist should read



Start to develop ideas for your own extended feature story and write an outline of each idea. The story you decide upon will be the one you complete for your assessment in this subject.

Your story outline should include:

  • the publication you’re aiming for, and a description of its audience
  • the purpose of your story
  • the voice, tone, and style you plan to use
  • the type of story, e.g. profile, background story (political, science, health, education)
  • the names or occupations of people you will interview
  • where you will conduct research for the story
  • how you plan to organise your information (i.e. how you will organise files and research, and how you’ll back up work as you go)

Opinion pieces will not be accepted for this assessment. You will need to interview at least three people for your story, and show evidence of research in places other than the Internet.



Skilful interviewing part 2

Any questions? Photo: vercasmickova/CC/deviantart
Any questions? Photo: vercasmickova/CC/deviantart

TOPIC: Getting the information you need via interview, and a practice session vox popping on campus.

Continue reading “Skilful interviewing part 2”

Podcasts & audio stories


Australians are among the world’s most enthusiastic makers, streamers, and downloaders of audio content, according to this feature in the SMH.

The best audio stories are scripted, and if they contain an interview, the questions are researched and written out beforehand.

Immerse, script, and record – an example by Nick Bennett:

This simple story script contains intro, outro, scene-setting narration, and questions for people involved in the story, which is about a sculpture exhibition in the Blue Mountains. Watch the video first:

INTRO: Nick Bennett on the rainforest floor just below Scenic World in the Jamieson Valley, Katoomba. I’ve descended the world’s steepest incline – about 200 meters – in search of art treasure.

Exhibition Manager, Lizzy Marshall, good morning.

  1. What’s so grand about this location?
  2. What inspired an exhibition in the rainforest?
  3. What pieces really stand out to you?
  4. What materials have the sculptors used?

Like Bondi’s Sculptures by the Sea, I’m surrounded by sculptures in the Inland Sea.

  1. Are there any local artisans involved? (Terrance Plowright, Miles Davis…)
  2. What plans do you have for its future?
  3. How many visitors do you expect to have through?

OUTRO: Scenic World’s Rainforest Sculpture exhibition is on until March 11. I’m Nick Bennett – out & about for the Big Blue Breakfast on 900 2LT.

Useful resources:

Important to know! On copyright (especially relating to using copyrighted music in your podcasts and audio stories). Read Fair Dealing  and Using Copyrighted Music and Media in your podcast.

Links for CC-licensed music and sound effects.

Beyond your phone: Recommended podcasting equipment list.

NPR Training – Storytelling tips and best practices. – The best site on the planet relating to audio and podcasting work.

Some listening recommendations.

Podcasting by commercial radio: iHeart, ACast, and PodcastOne.

Homework task for next week:

  1. Plan an interview: who will you interview, and why? How would you go about it?
  2. Find a podcasting app or site that suits you (e.g. Podcast Addict (Android), Apple Podcasts, Spotify, ABC Podcasts, This American Life) and listen to something – we’ll ask you about it next week.