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Judges tell all: John Cary

John Cary, Head of Accreditation at the NCTJ (at the time of this post, he has subsequently left) gave us some feedback on the 2016 Feature Article category.

We liked entries which were not predictable, or offered a genuine new twist on a big story.

Several magazines produced Donald Trump stories which did not offer new insight.

Our winner though took a story chosen by others – the crisis in Syria – and came up with something different, an interview with a man who took up arms to oppose ISIS.

We liked entries with some journalism in their approach. The winner had found someone interesting, talked to him and told us what he said. Simple but very effective.

Continuing the same theme, personalising a story will make it more compelling. Facts about a subject are important, but the human perspective of someone involved will bring it into sharp focus.

We liked articles which went their own way, and did it with passion and some style. Which is why subjects as diverse as Agincourt, skateboarding in Palestine and going on a date at McDonald’s all scored highly.

Finally, the importance of grabbing the reader’s attention from the start. The intro is very important. Get the first 30 words right, and you have every chance of keeping the reader to the end.