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10 questions with... features

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Colton, Jun 28, 2007.

  1. Colton

    Colton Active Member

    With our shrinking newshole, I'm contemplating starting something like this to allow for more quick-hitting items in my section.

    Thoughts (have you seen it work)? Advice (such as the tone of the questions)?

    Thanks, folks. As those of you who have read my recent posts probably realize, I'm searching for something... anything... to bring at least a glimmer of light into my dark, dank, desolate shop.
  2. We've done things like this, typically for our Monday section - cause it's the worst for local content.

    We would do "20 Questions With ..." or "A Round (18 questions) With ..."

    In addition to asking relevant and topical questions, we would also do some light-hearted stuff (boxers or briefs? Which Bond girl would you most like to take to dinner?) etc.,
    It did pretty well.
    Once you contacted the subject they were easy to do and you could stockpile them weeks ahead of time.
    Also, aim high ... we did past and present pro athletes with area ties, major college coaches, political big wigs and authors, we did sprinkle a few local athletes in coaches in, but largely we tried to get as big an interview (with local ties) as possible. It worked out pretty well.
  3. Colton

    Colton Active Member

    Hey, Evil: Thanks for the quick reply. Hope you don't mind another question... would you include a "The (subject) File" box with the feature to get some personal details included?

    Thanks again.

    p.s. you sounded like you were referring to the feature in past tense. Did you stop running it? If so, why? thanks.
  4. Barsuk

    Barsuk Active Member

    This is a good idea, Colton, but my advice would be to make this a straight Q&A rather than "10 questions," for a couple of reasons. First, depending on the length of the questions and answers, 10 questions can get pretty long or be really short. Second, you might not always have 10 questions you want to ask a particular subject. Some require more, some require fewer.

    If you just make it a "Q&A with ..." you can let the content dictate how much (or little) you run. On a side note, I think a quick bio box would be a nice element to add to the feature.

    Whatever you decide, best of luck with it.
  5. Mighty_Wingman

    Mighty_Wingman Active Member

    I'm not crazy about Q&As, but they're vey well-read...We run a lot of them, and they're invariably popular features.

    Barsuk makes a great point about leaving yourself as much flexibility as possible.

    And the "Some Guy" file is a good idea...my paper uses this format:

    The XXXXX File
    Current statistics:
    Career notes:

    We try to include it with every feature, though our writers and deskers both tend to forget it at times.
  6. We did run a bio box with the Q&A...
    We stopped running them. We were running out of big names and we're having to do more and more high school kids.
    My new one is trying to launch a "Where are They Now" series.
    A glance at what former area standouts and folks who made news are doing now.
    I thought of the idea a few years ago when Hometown High was playing Hometown East in the big game. Several years earlier in the annual game, a kid who was not a big star scored the game's only touchdown and won the game. I wanted to see what he was doing and what impact that game and moment had on him.
    Haven't got to do the story yet.
    There are lots of former athletes like that and I would like to go back and revisit some of the former glory and see what they are up to now. I also want to get then and now photos.
    It is a little more difficult than the Q&A.
    It hasn't taken off yet. My boss keeps saying he wants to do it, but it keeps getting put off.
    My plan is to rotate it among the staff. We did this with the Q&A as well. Everyone on the staff had to one a month. The subject and tentative line of questioning were subject to boss' approval.
    Also ...
    A few years ago we also did a 25 year team. We got a panel of current and former coaches (from each sport) together and came up with a list of the 25 best high school football and basketball (girls and boys) players in the area over the last 25 years.
    We also took votes from subscribers (which didn't really count). One lady sent in over 300 votes for her daughter, who did not make the list. Another called demanding we alter the list to accommodate her choices (which included her grandson).
    We did one sport a month (June, July and Aug.) We ended with football cause it led to kickoff.
    Each day we did a countdown: featuring a bio, high school stats and records, a Q&A and before and after pics. The whole thing was SUPER popular with readers and it helped the staff learn a great deal about the area's past high sports scene.

    In addition to the profiles of players, we got a ton of column and additional story material.

    When we did football gathering - one veteran football coach from one our fringe schools ended up holding a spontaneous coaching clinic on his offense for a couple of younger coaches. It was great.

    We capped the whole countdown with No. 1 on a Saturday. On Sunday we ran a two full color page recap of our honorees in baseball card form. It was very nice!

    If you are really interested I can send you copies of this stuff.
  7. chazp

    chazp Active Member

    We use them with our prep sports previews. Ask about favorite subjects, best sports memory, who's the team cutup, what college to you plan to attend, goals for this year in school, goals for this year in sports, songs on you MP3 player, pets name and breed, etc. They seem to go over well.
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