• Know as much as possible about the person
• Prepare questions in advance.
• Profile still needs a nut graph.
• Why is this person worth reading about? Why
are you doing this profile now? The nut graph
should answer that question – for you and for
• Different from nut graph
• Theme is an idea that ties things together.
• It helps decide which quotes, facts and
anecdotes to use and which to leave out.
• It can be very subtle. Ask yourself: What about
this person really struck me?
• Don't write a profile in chronological order
• Some background may come before the nut
graph, as part of a longer lead.
• Be selective in your use of background:
Include essential facts plus selected details.
Other points of view
• What do other people say about the subject
of this profile?
• Get quotes and comments from other sources
• Sometimes, it helps to talk to other sources
first, to help you prepare for the interview.
Get the facts right
• Go back and check every spelling of every
• Some news outlets had a tradition of CQ -
means you double-checked. You wrote a CQ
over every proper name to indicate you had
Show, don't tell
• Observe. Describe. And then show the subject
• Example: Don’t say a subject is “kind.” Show a
kind act and let the reader conclude that.
• Use details that are revealing and related to
• Require planning. Who will you talk to? What
information do you need?
• Require organization. How will you tell the
story? Think through an outline or structure
rather than rambling.
• Require transitions. Watch that you don’t
jump from topic to topic abruptly.
Short "snapshot" profiles
• Each paragraph makes a point
• Must pack a lot of information into a small
• Obits are stories about someone's life (not
• Full name. If there is a widely used nickname,
put it in quotes. Gerald “Lefty” Smith.
• Identification – a phrase that defines person,
generally by city or profession or key fact.
• Date and place of death
• Cause of death. Special treatment possible for
AIDs and suicide.
• Specific accomplishments
• Other highlights
• Survivors: Use names of immediate family.
Grandchildren are listed by number, usually
• Services and burial
• In obits, media outlets generally use Mr., Mrs.,
• Do not assume a woman uses Mrs. or Miss.
• Always think: Should I fact-check that?
• Relatives may not have accurate information.
You are still responsible for finding the truth.