Feature writing: a practical introduction by Susan Pape and Sue Featherstone - Chapter 1: What is a feature?
Pape and Featherstone state that many journalists class a feature as anything that isn’t news. However, many writers would consider their features to be news-based, so as to keep the article current and new, in order to interest their readers. As news articles need to be kept short and to the point, they primarily tell the readers what has happened in a given situation. However, a news-based feature can be much longer, and can go into much more detail of the events, and has much more room for opinion as well. (2006, P.2)
To differentiate between a news article or a feature, Pape and Featherstone say that one identifying factor is the length of the piece. A news article should be short and sweet, no longer than about 500 words, whereas a feature article can be anything between 600 - 2000 words. In addition, a feature article often includes much more illustrative tools, such as pictures, graphics and illustrations. They also have the opportunity to use a wider range of sources. In comparison to news articles, where the author may be pressed for time to get the article out whilst it is still current and will only quote one or at maximum two sources, a feature article has more time to gather and quote multiple sources to add more depth to their article. (2006, P.3)
If writing a feature article, the author must consider whether or not their chosen topic holds enough depth to sustain their readers interest. They should focus on their angle of the article, what they want to get across to the reader, and what message the reader will take away after having read the article. The author should aim for their feature to be interesting, new and enjoyable for the reader. If the article is particularly personal, the readers are much more likely to connect to the author and will make more of an effort to follow them and their writing. (2006, P.4-5)
Though a feature article may be much longer and more daunting to write, it is important not to let the quality of writing slip, otherwise the readers will lose interest. Even if they are not interested in the subject, if a feature is well written it is more likely to grab the reader's attention and result in them reading the entire article. (2006, P.6)
Pape, S. Featherstone, S. (2006) Feature Writing: A practical introduction. London: Sage.