What is a Story Angle?

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The angle is the point or theme of a news or feature story, which is most often found in the lede of the article. It's the lens through which the writer filters the information he or she has gathered. There may be several different angles to a single news event.

For instance, if a new law is passed, angles might include the cost of implementing the law and where the money will come from, the legislators who authored and pushed for the law, and the people most closely affected by the law. While each one of these could be included in the main story, each one also lends itself to a separate story.

Types of Story Angles

Both news and feature stories can have different angles. A few examples include the local angle, the national angle, and the follow-up story. 

  • Local angle: Sometimes reporters are asked to "localize a story." You can have a national news story, like hurricane ravaging shorelines across the East Coast. But a news outlet in Florida would focus specifically on the area where its readers/viewers are located.
  • National angle: This approach is taken for major stories, trend pieces, and issues that affect the country as a whole. An example would be how President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act affected Americans of different socioeconomic groups.
  • Follow-up story: After a breaking news story hits the Internet and newspapers, reporters will often write a follow-up story where the lede focuses on the new information. Using the inverted pyramid style of writing—where the most relevant information is at the top of the story—a follow-up article gives readers new details followed by the background that is found in the initial story.

Finding A Local Angle

So you've combed the local police precinct, city hall and the courthouse for stories, but you're looking for something more. National and international news typically fills the pages of big metropolitan papers, and many beginning reporters want to try their hand at covering these bigger-picture stories.

There is such a thing as over-localizing a story. For instance, if John Smith is nominated to the Supreme Court, and he went to high school in your local town, then that's a legitimate way to localize a national story. If he once visited your town while he was in college, that's probably a stretch, and won't make the story any more relevant to your readers. 

Angles Derived From Good News Judgement

Reporters must cultivate what's called a "news sense" or a "nose for news," an instinctive feel for what constitutes a big story. It may not always be the most obvious story, but experience can help reporters figure out where an important story begins. 

Developing a feel for what constitutes a big story is something many journalism students struggle with. It can take time and effort to develop this sense. The best way to learn how to find good story ideas is to emulate, and shadow experienced reporters. How do they build their contacts and sources? Where do they go, and who do they talk to? What other journalists do they read? 

This is the best way to develop a sense of not only the best ways to cover news but how to find the angle that your readers will care about most.