Plan regular features to keep readers coming back

Every Friday on my drive to work, I delight in one thing above all else: NPR’s Story Corps. It’s a short feature in which two people who know each other record a short conversation with one person interviewing the other. The interviews are heart-warming and humanity-affirming, and just… anticipation-worthy.

Anyway, Story Corp is just one feature that has me hooked on NPR, and in the same way, student journalists are trying to get readers hooked on their sites. A great way to do this is through regular, or recurring, features.

Here are a selection of regular features from NPR that could be adapted for a student audience:

Up FirstA short, 10-minute or less podcast that introduces listeners to the biggest news of the day.A top 5 for the week ahead (if it runs on Monday) or from the past week (if it runs on Friday). If you do it at the end of the week, you can link back to stories posted to your website.
How I Built ThisGuy Raz explores how well-known companies or products were developed.The “How I…” model is a great one for student publications that want to feature individual students around campus. This regular feature could include a Q+A and accompanying visuals or a step-by-step process.
Tiny Desk SeriesIn this video series, music artists perform a concert from the same location — the desk of an NPR producer.While this would work for musicians on your campus, you could draw inspiration from the series to do your own video series featuring anyone on your campus with a unique skill.
Songs We LoveMusic writers and hosts share their recommendations across multiple genres.Broadly speaking, you could adopt this idea to feature student music recommendations, but also to get recommendations for anything, from restaurants to video games to types of pen.
Rough TranslationNPR takes a familiar story and looks at how it’s reported somewhere else. The idea of taking something familiar or well-known and looking at it in a new way could definitely be applied to your student body. For example, you might do a “From the Archives” feature that looks back through past yearbooks or newspapers to see how a certain issue has been reported on in the past.

Within each section of your publication exist opportunities to develop regular features your readers will look forward to seeing each week or month. You’re giving the readers great coverage, and you’re creating the expectation that your website will always have something news to explore. It’s a win-win.

Cover Photo by Frank Albrecht on Unsplash

Michelle Balmeo

Michelle Balmeo, MJE, is the adviser of The Whirlwind newsmagazine and online news publication at West Albany High School in Albany, Ore. She's done some print stuff, some video stuff, and some web stuff over the past 14 years as a student media adviser.

Michelle Balmeo has 57 posts and counting. See all posts by Michelle Balmeo

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