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What's too long for a good feature

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Rhody31, May 6, 2008.

  1. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    I just banged out 2,400 words on a feature about a local athlete who has diabetes. It talks about him conquering the disease, how it was diagnosed, what it is, etc, etc.
    I broke it down as much as I could but there is so much involved with this disease. I have five breakout boxes filled with basic info, some good art of him testing, playing and a posed family shot that i'm putting on the inside. I also have graphics and diagrams about how certain things work.

    Is that too much? I feel like I might be overdoing this, but I wanted to make sure I did it the right way ...

    Now the fun begins. Two games today, two more stories to write, then layout. Ugh.
  2. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    70 inches, 5 breakouts plus graphics and diagrams seems bit overdone to me.
    Not to downplay how serious diabetes can be, but we have probably 8 to 10 diabetic athletes in our area.
    And you don't conquer the disease, you learn how to manage it.
  3. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    Diabetes? 2,400 words? Diabetes is pretty common to be doing 2,400 words on it, IMO.

    edit: spnited beat me to it.
  4. jps

    jps Active Member

    I tend to agree ... certainly can be a good story and a nice reader on a Sunday ... but I could see maybe 40 inches and a breakout?
  5. hankschu

    hankschu Member

    Your desk just called. Can you turn it into a brief?
  6. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Just noticed, Rhody signed off immediately after starting this thread. I realize he had games to cover, but why ask a question and then run before you get any responses?
  7. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    Maybe it doesn't run until this weekend, so he has time to work on it?
  8. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    I'll buy that, but it always puzzles me that people have a big question to ask and post it right before they have to leave for something else.
  9. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Saying that a story needs to be cut because of some arbitrary word count or inch count is stupid.

    The story should be as long as the reporting and writing justify.

    In some instances, a story about an athlete with "diabeetus" (the athlete, not the poster) would be 10 inches. In others, it might be a 6000-word New Yorker profile by Malcom Gladwell. John McPhee wrote two gigantic books about rocks. Poe wrote a book about molluks.

    2,400 words does seem like a bit much. But maybe not. If I were your editor, I'd want you to make a compelling case for why it needed to be that long.
  10. What do I call a 3000-word feature?
    My lede.
  11. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    I'd go 35-40 inches with one breakout box and the art.

    Two thousand, four hundred words is excessive IMO. Then again, this comes from someone whose longest-ever story clocked in at about 1,250 words.
  12. I know you don't want to hear this, but there's no right answer.

    If it's a narrative, it can go on for thousands of words and be fine, because those take a while to move along.

    And the subject matter isn't always relevant, either. You can trivialize anything.

    "A story about war and peace? Should be able to wrap that up in a couple hundred pages, no?"
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