Personality profile critique & tips

Last week’s exercise in writing a personality profile about a classmate was a first real venture into writing a news piece on deadline. I have read all the stories and will return them Thursday. Based on this reading, I will offer some generalizations. However, there ae the beginning of several compelling stories in what you wrote.

Here are some tips and suggestions.


  • Remember the story is about your subject, not you.
  • Collect quotes and let the subject’s voice tell the story.
  • Ask more questions.
  • Compress and condense factual information.
  • Add detail when possible — be specific about dates.
  • Ask more questions.
  • We want more than a list of “favorites.”
  • Learn to recognize when you have an important element about your subject revealed… and ask follow up questions.
  • Find a hook — why do we need to know more about this person?
  • Work and rework your ledes — “Joe Smith is a student at UAB” is a boring and noncompelling way to begin.
  • Remember the five Ws and the H — make sure these are address.


  • Use third person voice in writing all news stories. Do not use “I” or “you.”
  • When possible use lively, active verbs.
  • Place attribution at the ends of sentences in most cases
  • Use shorter paragaphs.
  • Avoid injecting your own opinion.
  • Paraphrase when possible to condense narrative.
  • Follow AP style — for example, the correct abbreviation for Alabama is “Ala.” “AL” is a postal mark.
  • Understatement is more effective that overstatement.


  • Cluster similar information together.
  • When shifting gears from one topic to another, develop a good transition.
  • Work and rework your lede.
  • Anticipate what questions a reader might have and answer them.
  • Work on identifying most key attributes baout your subject in a single paragraph.


  • DOUBLE SPACE all submissions. Thanks to all who did.

More discussion to follow in class Thursday. This week we are going to work on revising what we wrote.

By the way — did I mention to ask more questions?


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