This course consisted of feature articles. Feature articles are stories that appear in a newspaper or magazine, but are not about the headline news of things that happened yesterday. Rather, they are rather stories that give a deeper view into something – the news behind the news – or they give an insight into work that individuals are doing.
Often hard news stories – the latest news that happened yesterday – are about bad things that happen – floods, disasters, accidents, scandals. There will be no front page headline saying, ‘No accidents happened on N2 yesterday’ because that is not news. It is only news if ‘Five die in N2 accident yesterday’. So this is why these kind of feature articles are enjoyable to read, as they can focus on people doing good in the way that headline news can’t do. Feature articles can also give a deeper insight into why things happen – so, for example, the story about the whoonga gives us insight into why individuals turn to the drug, and the difficulties in trying to get clean.
You will notice how these articles often quote individuals directly, as the journalists will have had to interview people for their research. The articles also don’t start like other hard news articles. In big front page news articles you will notice how all the facts are given in the first paragraph – the who, what, when and where. But feature articles don’t have to do that. Some of them start with a quote, or something to get you interested in reading the story further.
A few articles in this course come from LIVE SA which is a youth-run media channel, with stories written by young people themselves. They cover a range of topics from fashion, politics, music, art, relationships, career advice, events and gigs.
Most of the stories in this course come from the online magazine GroundUp. As its name suggests, GroundUp tries to get stories from people on the ground, within communities. This is how they describe their work: “We report news that is in the public interest, with an emphasis on the human rights of vulnerable communities. We want our stories to make a difference. We value high-quality, ethical journalism. We are independent and do not promote any political party. We try to write in plain language.”
It has always been important to have a press that is ‘independent’, as that means that they do not have owners who decide what should go into the newspaper – and what shouldn’t. This is a problem the world over, with rich people owning newspapers and then having an influence over what stories should be publicised. There have been cases where these rich people’s companies have been found to be doing something wrong – but the newspapers they own don’t report it. So it is always important to check the sources of the articles you read, and why it is good to support independent newspapers such as Groundup.
Even if a newspaper is independent, the feature articles will often focus on powerful people or groups. There are many criticisms of the mainstream newspapers, as they seldom report what is happening in poorer areas of the country, or about the struggles of poor people. That is also why we need to support publications such as GroundUp – because they are showing that news is not only about the rich people who control society.