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October 24, 2005

Feature Stories and Profiles

I am really excited to do a feature story, because I think this type of writing gives me more room to exercise me literary writing skills. I like to incorporate emotion into my writing, and I like appealing to the readers’ emotions. I think I will have slightly more freedom to do that in this piece. Chapter 11 in The Associated Press Guide to News Writing focuses on feature writing and profiles. I want part of my feature to be a profile, because I think people relate better to stories when they contain a real person. As the book shows a feature story will draw more readers if it begins with an anecdote or personal story, than if it begins with giving research or statistics.

I really thought it was interesting and humorous on page 104 when they say celebrity profiles are not very important, because celebrities have stock answers to give reporters that will make them look like "good" people. The book said that celebrities "like people. They think the city they're in is wonderful. They like sports. They like music. They like babies." I think you get the point. I decided to look at an interview and went to thecelebritycafe.com to see if an interview fit in the category of "stock answers." I chose Leann Rimes the country singer. Many of Rimes' answers were positive and upbeat. She told the reporter this was the best time of her life, it was a positive time for her career, and she was happily married.

I do not think it is the fault of a celebrity for having to answer questions in this way. Everything a celebrity does or says is picked apart by the media, so giving stock answer sis one form of protection for the famous. I do think the book did a good job of making this also humorous. I think I will automatically laugh anytime I read a celebrity interview from now on.


Posted by JennaOBrocto at October 24, 2005 1:26 PM

Comments

It's not as extreme as this anymore, but back in the day celebreties used to have publicists that would dictate what they would wear going outside, everything they would say, whether or not they were allowed to shop in grocery stores, etc. They were so conscious of the power the media had that they tried to create an image for each star and only show that image. Now celebrities have more freedom, but they're lives are still affected by their image in the media.

Posted by: Johanna at October 24, 2005 4:54 PM

Hmm... celebrities still manage their public image pretty closely, Johanna. In the days of the Hollywood studio system, where an actor signed a contract to do whatever roles the studio wanted them to have, the studop publicist would have the studio's best interest in mind, not the actor's long-term goals. Now the big mega-stars are more independent, and some of them are very good at cultivating a bad-girl or bad-boy persona, but the celebrity news industry is full of people who simply want to be part of the glitz and glamor. The same goes for the technology industry, by the way, and particularly videogames -- the big companies give free gadgets and review compies to mid-level reporters who want to preserve their good relationship with the companies, so they tend not to write negative things.

But to be fair, if you were a celebrity, and people kept asking you the same questions over and over again, you'd eventually get pretty good at delivering the kind of answers that got you the kind of press coverage you want. Is that somehow sinister or devious?

Actors and other performers (including politicains) learn how to "perform" in order to get the kind of coverage they want.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at October 25, 2005 12:00 AM

This reminds me of the old beauty pageant cliche that in every answer try to say you want "world peace."

Posted by: Jenna O'Brocto at October 26, 2005 1:38 PM

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