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What is a Human Interest Story?

Human interest stories explore the personal or humorous side of a news event.
Public radio commonly broadcasts human interest features.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2014
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Much news is focused on presenting facts and statistics, which may get a little boring unless someone has a keen interest in the subject. While people may be very interested in the latest presidential polls, something that may cause cancer, a food recall, or what the weather will be like tomorrow, news sources like newspapers, magazines and television shows may also want to put a “human face” on the news by covering a story more in depth. Sometimes called the story behind the story or an emotional news story, the human interest story may look at news in a more personal way, especially by interviewing people affected or creating a report on one or several people facing challenges that have been covered in the news. The goal is to engage us emotionally in presentation of the news.

It’s common to see at least one human interest story on a nightly news broadcast or in a morning newspaper. A newspaper might be covering home foreclosure rates and have an article that deals with statistics regarding them. To flesh out this story and offer greater coverage, it might then feature an article on a few people in the neighborhood who are experiencing a home foreclosure. Emphasis would be on the personal effects of such a difficult experience, and would be likely to raise readers’ understanding about how the “facts and numbers” on home foreclosure were really working in their community.

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Unlike in straight journalism, where it is hoped that journalists will remain objective, these emotional stories may be more flexibly written. Sometimes, the details are so intense, that the journalist hardly needs to insert any editorial information. At other times, coverage has a decided slant, and the decision to include this type of story to flesh out other reports may be deliberate. Putting a human face on bare facts can move an audience to react in a certain way, and push an agenda by the media source that isn’t at all objective. There’s some contention that these stories shouldn’t be included in objective journalism at all, but many people find them beneficial, moving or entertaining diversions from bare facts news.

A human interest story doesn’t have to be deeply moving, and it may be added more for entertainment value. A news story about a presidential candidate’s favorite vegetable or his or her daily workout really isn’t “news” in the traditional sense. Other stories that can make it into the news may be unrelated to news content and provide a needed break from the “if it bleeds it leads” style of journalism. For instance, Anton the Amazing Squirrel who has learned to build with dominoes, might be added as a story that adds levity to a broadcast or newspaper that primarily covers murders, dangerous statistics, and reports on the negative aspects of the country.

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Discuss this Article

giddion
Post 14
Journalists can gather all kinds of human interest stories when a tragedy strikes an area. People who have lost homes or loved ones suddenly become very interesting to the world at large.
cloudel
Post 13
Medical shows on television can be boring if the human element is left out. However, when a show features an interview with the person who has had the illness they are talking about, it gets interesting.

I enjoyed watching this show that featured people with illnesses that took years to diagnose. I could actually feel the person's frustration as he or she recounted going from doctor to doctor and getting no solution.

lighth0se33
Post 12
@Crispety – I had a good human interest story about a lady in my neighborhood who had lost everything and had lived on the streets for ten years. She had just gotten her life back on track, and she let me write her story.

I sent it to an article submission site, and my work got accepted. It got several views, but nowhere near the amount I was hoping it would get.

I think I made about thirty cents off the article. So, though human interest stories are intriguing, if you don't rank high in a search engine or have some form of advertising for your article, it may never get read.

Oceana
Post 11
I watch my local news every night, and they always have stories about politics and the educational system. I find these to be really boring.

However, I love the unusual stories that they sometimes feature about humans and animals. They once reported that a skunk got its head stuck in a can and stopped traffic on the highway while trying to cross blind. This was great stuff to me, because it was a refreshing relief from the mundane.

Crispety
Post 6

Bhutan-You can also submit free articles on many sites online. If you are approved to write on the site, you provide a free article submission and get your story read.

Sites like Suite101 and Bright Hub offer residual income on the articles submitted. Most of the income comes from advertising revenue placed on your article.

You will be able to get daily and weekly statistics on the number of readers you are receiving as well as the revenue that you have generated. It is really rewarding to display your work in this fashion and many people feel that it gets addicting.

Bhutan
Post 5

Latte31-I love to hear about those kind of stories because they are so motivating. When writing feature articles, most writers try to develop a compelling story that will attract readers and will get readers to buy the magazine.

Weight loss stories where people lost significant amounts of weight are very popular. Stories about budgeting and many saving tips are also very popular.

If you have any idea for a story you can submit an article to the editor of the magazine. This idea to submit the article is called a query and is set up as a brief overview of your intended topic.

It is best to obtain a copy of the magazine that you intend to write for and obtain the editorial guidelines. If your article idea is approved then you can submit an article.

latte31
Post 4

Human interest journalism involves stories that people can relate to. Sometimes a story involves a health related subject like weight loss.

The story may start out mentioning statistics of obesity and how this can negatively affect one's health. They may discuss statistics regarding various diseases and conditions that occur in obese patients.

They may also feature people that have recently lost significant amounts of weight. Most people can relate to the weight loss struggle and they like to hear about positive stories like this. They might discuss bariatric surgery, weight loss programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers or other methods of weight loss.

They also might feature a nutritionist and a personal trainer that can offer tips on leading a healthier lifestyle.

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