Journalists who write about events need to include facts and other “provable” information in their stories, especially when reporting on something like a sports game, political convention, or other happenings. But depending on the publication and the type of story, writing about an event also includes writing about a feeling or attitude as well as people, places, and objects.
As a journalist, the main question you must answer involves deciding which one, or more, of these makes the event memorable and worth your time to write about. If you want to write like a journalist, you need to actually attend or witness the event firsthand. As always, there’s an exception or two: you could write about an event you watched on television (like the Video Music Awards show where Miley Cyrus did her twerking), or you could interview someone who participated in the event. Check out my tips for developing a compelling feature story about a particular event:
- Observe – Take care to notice any special details, such as visuals, sounds, tastes and smells that might help your readers experience the event the way you did. Observe details and things that happened before the event began, especially things that help set up mood.
- Investigate – Chat with other people at the event. Talk to them before, during, and afterwards. You’ll want to record their impressions, feelings, surprises, disappointments – anything that will help readers see the event through others’ eyes. Read about the event’s history and talk to an expert on that type of event who can lend insight into its appeal.
- Describe – Like any good reporter, you’ll need to list the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the event. Write about these six questions as if telling a friend about it. In this kind of story, showing trumps telling more than ever. Talk about the background, people, actions, feelings, conversations and all the other special details that made the experience special or different.
- Define – Write about the type of event you’re reporting on and how it’s different from or similar to other events in the same category. For instance, how are the VMA awards different from other music awards shows? How is it similar?
- Compare – Compare this event to the same event last year (or month, or week) even if you didn’t attend last year’s show. You can still compare it because you will have done a thorough job in the investigative phase of this reporting process.
- Speculate – Share your thoughts about how this event might have been more memorable or noteworthy and talk about how you think it will fare in the future.
- Evaluate – Was attending the event worthwhile to you and to the others who watched or participated? Make a statement for or against holding this event again.
- Analyze, explain, criticize, recommend – If the assignment allows for it, you may want to top the story off with a recommendation for your readers or other analysis.
Avoid clichés and overused expressions when writing anything, but especially when writing about something you witnessed or event you attended. Examples of clichés include sayings like: slowly but surely, cold sweat, drop like flies, sell like hotcakes and other tired phrases. Don’t know what kind of event to write about? It doesn’t have to be some huge show or massive sports game. You can write about something local or even personal. Here’s a list of possible events you can report about to your readers:
- An awards show
- Your proudest moment
- A vacation
- A fire or car accident
- High school football game
- Charity fundraiser
- A local concert
- Writer’s convention
- A parade
- A first date
- Birth of a child
- Act of kindness
So, you see, a good journalist can craft an appealing and interesting story that details just about any event or local happening. Have you written about an event? Did the story or post turn out the way you wanted? Share with us!
Photo credit: sports reporter Samantha Ponder (aka Samantha Steele) ESPN [dot] com