JRN 401 Week 8 – March 1


  • Last week – Profile pitches



What are the elements of a feature profile?

  • a character!
  • theme angle, interesting key element that ties the story together and makes it coherent
  • newsworthy – why this person? why now?
  • How are they unique? How are they like other people?
  • Story-telling means finding the narrative – what are the elements of a narrative story?
  • Plot – tension
  • Turning point – impact on the character
  • Anecdotes – that are relevent to the theme/angle
  • motivation
  • Quotes – backed with facts, use “said” or “says”
  • Interviewing – do 2 interviews plus
    • #1 – build rapport, background, find focus/theme/angle
    • #2 – fill in gaps
    • #3, 4, 5 – other people related to the story
  • scene – details of how they work, live

Types of profiles:

  • vignette – moment in time
  • a day in the life
  • 15 minutes of fame
  • full life profile


Class activity: select students to interview and find the interesting key element about them that will make a great profile



From “How to Write a Profile Story. Available at http://journalism-education.cubreporters.org/2010/08/how-to-write-profile-story.html

What follows are some of the many questions you may want to ask:

  • Where did you go to college? What degrees do you have?
  • What, if any, further degrees or certifications are you pursuing?
  • Do you have any other special training that has prepared you for your career?
  • Where have you worked before this job?
  • What honors/awards have you received?
  • Could you give some personal background (single/married, children, etc.)?
  • Are you involved in any community organizations (charities, church, etc.)?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • Where did you grow up? Did you move around a lot? If yes, how did this affect you? If no, how did the stability of living in one place all your life affect you?
  • Are there any political or social issues you feel passionately about?
    Do you have a nickname?
  • List your favorites (book, movie or play, quote, poem, website, type of food or individual dish, music genre, song, band or individual musician, perfume, clothing style or designer, etc.).
  • Where have you traveled?
  • Tell me about your current job (activity, whatever)? What attracted you to it?
  • How do you break it down and handle everything?
  • How do you keep a healthy work/life balance?
  • What are your greatest stresses and what causes you the most anxiety in your life?
  • What is most rewarding about your job; what makes it all worthwhile?
  • What are the most critical problems faced by people in your field in this city/state/country? How do you think these problems should be handled?
  • What’s the hardest thing for you about being a _____? How do you address that?
  • What comes easiest to you as a ______?
  • Who was your favorite _______ and why?
  • So far what’s been your most embarrassing moment as a ________?
  • What’s the newest, freshest approach you are bringing to your job?
  • What’s the next skill or knowledge set you want to add to your repertoire to make you a better _________?
  • Favorite weekend activity?
  • What’s your favorite funny story about yourself?
  • Name one thing about yourself that most people don’t know.
  • List three misconceptions that people often have about you (and, if none, why).
  • What’s your life plan? What do you plan to have accomplished in five, 10, 20, and 50 years — personally and/or professionally?
  • What was your favorite toy (or game) as a child, and why?
  • What makes you laugh?
  • Best compliment you’ve ever received?
  • Anything else you’d like to add?
  • Did the person have a model or idol who they aspired to be as a youth?
  • Did the person have specific goals as a youth? How did they go about achieving those goals?
  • Who has helped them during their personal or professional career?
  • Has there been a defining moment in that person’s life that made themdecide to take the direction in life that they did?
  • Does the person have advice to offer people who are aspiring to be as successful as he/she?
  • Tell me something about yourself that people might not readily know.

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