Structure: The Backbone of Great Feature Stories
Public radio listeners have what's
been described as a 'vigilant curiosity' about the world. They want to know
what's happening in their nation, around the globe and in their communities.
When producing local coverage, we need to always think how a topic in our
community connects with what one Sense of Place study listener called "the
Producing stories that provide
depth, context and connection also requires great writing, carefully chosen
sound and a structure that provides focus and narrative momentum. Without
structure, you end up with what amounts to sonic wallpaper: stories that may be
aesthetically pleasing but lack the depth, substance and power that make a
story both information-rich and memorable.
One basic formula for producing
stories that can meet the high expectations of our listeners is called The 4-Part Story. This structure formula is
a basic, framework for rookie reporters who need guidance on how to organize a
long-form story with many threads.
For experienced reporters, it's a
starting point to develop alternate structures, based on the particular story
to be assembled. For News Directors, it's an effective tool to quickly identify
problems with story narrative, help their reporters make repairs and ultimately
deliver stronger, deeper journalism to listeners.