Featured School Papers:

Know Your J-Jargon

open-ended question: One that permits the respondent some latitude in the answer; for example, “How did you get involved in politics?” News Reporting & Writing (Eighth Edition) by the Missouri Group. Copyright 2005. Reproduced by permission of Bedford/St. Martins.

Learn more J-Jargon »

Lesson Plans

Jodie Morgenson
Journalism teacher
Full-bio »

Lesson Plans

Photojournalism and composition

Interviewing and Feature Writing

Interviewing and Feature Writing

Jodie Morgenson of Nebraska City High School in Nebraska City, Neb.

Jodie L. Morgenson
Nebraska City High School
Nebraska City, Neb.

Title: Interviewing and Feature Writing

Overview and rationale for lesson: In order for students to get a great story on a great subject, he or she must master the “art” of interviewing. In this lesson students will read about the interviewing process. We will discuss what “good” questions are. The students will compose a long list of good standard questions in preparation for an interview they will conduct later in the quarter. The students will be paired up and will be required to fill out a pre-interview questionnaire for one another. The students will be required to interview each other and write a feature story on his/her subject.

Goals for understanding: from Nebraska’s Reading/Writing Standards, by grade 12

  • 12.1.1 By the end of the twelfth grade, students will identify the basic facts and essential ideas in what they have read or viewed.
  • 12.1.2 By the end of the twelfth grade, students will locate, access, and evaluate resources to identify appropriate information.
  • 12.1.6 By the end of the twelfth grade, students will read, identify, analyze, and apply knowledge of the structure, elements, and meaning of nonfiction or informational material and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding.
  • 12.1.8 By the end of the twelfth grade, students will interpret the meaning of literary works, nonfiction, films, and media by using different analytic techniques.
  • 12.2.1 By the end of the twelfth grade, students will identify, describe, and apply knowledge of the structure of the English language and Standard English conventions for sentence structure, usage, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.
  • 12.2.3 By the end of the twelfth grade, students will demonstrate improvement in organization, content, word choice, voice, sentence fluency, and Standard English conventions after revision and editing their compositions.
  • 12.2.4 Students will use a variety of forms to write for different audiences and purposes.
  • 12.2.5 Students will use self-generated questions, note-taking, summarizing and outlining to enhance learning.
  • 12.3.1 By the end of the twelfth grade, students will pose questions and contribute their own information or ideas in group discussions in order to acquire new knowledge.
  • 12.4.1 Students will apply listening skills for a variety of purposes.
  • Essential questions:
    • What is an interview?
    • Why do we interview?
    • What is a feature story?
    • What is an open-ended question?
    • What is a close-ended question?
    • Which is better? Why?
    • What is a personal profile?
  • Critical engagement questions:
    • What makes a “good” question?
    • Give some examples of good questions.
    • What makes a feature story interesting?


  • Read Chapter Three, Interviewing from "News Reporting and Writing, Sixth Edition," by The Missouri Group.
  • Discuss this chapter.
  • Discuss what types of questions are best for interviews. Give examples of “good” questions.
  • Pair up in groups.
  • Have students fill out pre-interview sheets.
  • Exchange pre-interview sheets with partners.
  • To prepare for the interview, the students will have two days, in-class time to research the pre-interview sheet. This may mean the students will be contacting the interviewee’s family members, friends, teachers, etc. or it may mean that the student interviewer will go on-line or into the library to research his/her interviewee’s interests. (i.e.: The interviewee is a champion grocery sacker so the interviewer should go on-line and research grocery sacking).
  • The students should compose a list of 50 questions, minimum for the interview. Be sure to remind students to use follow-up questions.
  • Students will conduct the interviews in or out of class, depending on what the interviewer and interviewee are most comfortable with.
  • After the interview, the student will be required to write a 7-10 page feature story about his/her subject. An edited, revised, polished copy will be the final product.
  • After the interview, each interviewee will fill out an assessment sheet on his/her interviewer.
  • Note: This is in preparation for the students’ later interviews with community members.


  • I will grade the student’s list of 50 questions on thoroughness and open-endedness.
  • I will grade the final feature story.
  • The interviewee assessment will account for 5% of the student’s final grade.

Recommended reading and source:

  • Chapter 3 Interviewing in "News Reporting and Writing, Sixth Edition," by The Missouri Group,

Archived Lesson Plans »