But features are important too.
I was recently at a family gathering when a relative gave me a copy of a newspaper from 1942. On the cover was a photo of my great-grandfather at age twenty, wearing his air force uniform and holding his first son.
The story covered his return home for Christmas vacation, where he met his four-month old baby (my great-uncle) for the first time.
"I had saved up $240 through the long months to bring home for the baby when the plane started down and we had to peel off our heavy flying clothes and the $240 went right down the drink with the rest of the plane," he said. (Mind you, I probably don't have the best grasp of what $240 was worth in 1942...but there is an ad in the newspaper offering a full course Christmas dinner for $2.25, if that says anything.)
The thing that really got me though, was the fact that he managed to hang into his Army cap after the crash and for several days at sea until his rescue. The reason? "I just wanted to see how it would look on my son."
Maybe this all sounds a little cliche, but it really touched me. According to the article, two out of every three men in his Squadron died that year. If he didn't beat those odds, I wouldn't be here writing this article today.
I'm lucky to have gotten ahold of this piece of my roots. Now that newspapers are easily accessible online, hopefully the future generations can take advantage of what we're leaving here for them. And hopefully we can leave them something worthwhile.
Profiles and features aren't just useless fluff, nor any less important than news stories. They stand the test of time. They bring history to life, connecting the facts we know with the people who lived through it. That's what feature stories are all about.