“The best way to find feature story ideas is to follow your own passions,” WXXI News reporter April Franklin told MEDPL 2021 Reporting and Writing I students.
Franklin visited Professor Khristopher Brooks’ class and discussed how she develops feature pieces as a general assignment reporter for the NPR affiliate in Rochester, New York. During the visit, Franklin said it’s easy to get overwhelmed when pondering a feature story idea. You can combat that feeling by sharpening the story angle, Franklin told students.
“You can have a good idea, but I think you have to really centralize it because there might be other stories within that one story that you can always revisit when it comes to features,” she said.
Editors often give reporters a longer deadline for feature stories because newsrooms want those pieces well reported, Franklin said. Feature stories also take longer to publish because newsrooms develop other components to attract readers. At WXXI, “we’re also thinking about visuals for our website,” Franklin said.
“We want to make sure that the content we’re producing people are going to be interested in seeing it,” she said.
Before joining WXXI News, Franklin spent 12 years as a medical technician at a local hospital. Years at the hospital helped Franklin realize she wanted to tell stories of people who don’t have their voices heard. Anyone pursuing a journalism career should look to do the same, she said.
“It’s not hard to find stories in general,” Franklin said. “If you’re a curious person, there’s a story everywhere.”