Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Wall Street Journal Formula


According to All the News by Thom Lieb, the Wall Street Journal formula is proabably the most used feature story structure. The four main sections include:

1. The story typically opens with a specific example (presented in an anecdotal, descriptive or narrative lead.
2. A nut graf relates that example to a more general point and explains what the story is about.
3. The body of the story provides support for the general point (quotes, facts, and development). 4. The story typically ends with another anecdot or description-often featuring the person or people featured in the lead-or speculates on a future development related to the lead.


I found an article on the Baltimore Sun's website entitled, Nightly dialysis keeps teen alive that contains the essential elements to the Wall Street Journal formula. The narrative lead reads, "No matter what Eric Washington is doing - be it catch up work from the classes he has missed a game of pick-up football that his doctors have forbidden- he must be home by 10p.m. No exceptions." This illustrates the narrative lead for the story and sets the scene.

The nut graf of the story reads, "There aren't a lot of children on dialysis - roughly 1,600 in the United States require a machine to perform the normal functions of their kidneys. But there are more than ever, because many children whose kidney disease would have killed them in infancy are surviving to need organ transplants."

The body of the story supports the general point. An example in the story reads, "Eric 17, is but one example of millions of children nationwide with a chronic illness, from with kids with diabetes who are on strict diets and even give themselves insulin shots to those with cystic fibrosis who may need for treatments a day to maintain therir ability to breathe. Many face uncertain futures. All have obstacles the healthy do not." There is also a quote from Eric as to how he feels about having his illness, Eric says, "I'd like to one time go home and just go to sleep," he says, "without having to worry aobut it." Eric's feelings bring the raw emotion into what his life is like on a daily basis.

The final section of the Wall Street Journal formula closes the story by revisting the central person being talked about. In Eric's case, the article reads, "Each day brings a chance that Eric will get a kidney. That ofcourse, would change everything. Dreams about that day bring a smile to his face." The final word comes from Eric in which in says, "I want to go out," he says, "and not come home until the next day."

1 comment:

jatwater said...

Good example, we'll have to look at this in class.