Breaking News Stories
Covering Specific Victim Populations
Other Considerations
Special Challenges in Reporting
Special Challenges in Reporting
High Impact Stories
Working With Service Providers
Creating Ethics Policy
Victims Right to Privacy
Self Care for Journalists
Resources and Promising Practices
Glossary and Endnotes

Link to A News Media Guide for Victim Service Providers
Link to Crime Victim Outreach Tip Sheets



Guidelines for Feature Stories

Page Index
a. Requesting story
i. By letter
ii. By enlisting trusted emissaries
b. Anniversary stories
c. Continuing mystery
d. Personal profile
e. The journalist as betrayer
f. The accountability of the freelancer
g. An appropriate role for experts
h. Identifying reliable experts
i. The "poster child" problem

Reporter Guidelines for Act II (Feature) Stories

The dynamics of Act II features differ significantly from Act I stories. Breaking news often asks rookie reporters with little or no specific training in interviewing victims to gather information quickly to meet a deadline. In contrast, the Act II feature typically involves allowing seasoned reporters to spend significant time producing carefully crafted articles or mini-documentaries, in collaboration with one or more editors, as well as photographers, videographers, and illustrators. Allowing experienced journalists to work on stories with longer or more flexible deadlines usually means that the resulting stories result in fewer problems for victims than Act I stories do.

Reporters assigned to Act II stories would be well advised to read the guidelines for Act I stories since many tips and techniques apply to both. Asking for the interview, however, differs with Act II stories because reporters enjoy more opportunities and have a longer lead time during which they can try to persuade victims to speak. With an Act II story, journalists can ask for the interview—

While much of the advice on Act I stories still applies to Act II stories, there are special dynamics related to three of the most common kinds of Act II stories (the anniversary story, the continuing mystery, and the personal profile).



Although the Act II story allows reporters more time to do a good job on their stories, there are potential pitfalls:

Perhaps most difficult of all is when a reporter has to explain that a story has been cancelled or that the victim’s contribution to the story was eliminated, particularly if other victim stories will still be published. The reality is that editors may pick one victim story over another because one story is more dramatic or the victim is more photogenic. Such decisions, of course, can insult and upset victims, especially if they have already told family and friends that they have been interviewed.


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