After reading the introduction to The New Kings of Nonfiction, I am very excited to read the stories contained in the book throughout the semester. As Glass points out, all of the stories were written by great reporters, and many of the stories have similar characteristics. (Talking about the collection of stories in the book and their similarities) "First and foremost, they're incredible reporters. And like the best reporters, they either find a new angle on something we all know about already, or -- more often -- they take on subjects nobody else has figure out are worthy of reporting." (pg 4) I am looking forward to reading these stories and breaking them down in detail, mainly because of the struggles I've had in taking on new angles in stories I've written. Based on most of what I read and the style I generally have to adhere to when producing content for umdbulldogs.com, I often struggle to come up with much of anything outside of the basic who what where when why and how. I think reading this collection of stories will enhance my curiosity and ability to uncover new angles in my reporting.
What stood out to me from Part I : An Invitation to Narrative in Telling True Stories was Gay Talese's section entitled "Delving into Private Lives." Talese talks about the 1999 Women's World Cup Final between the United States and China, a match the US won via penalty kicks. He said that the more interesting story would be to focus on Yu Ling, the Chinese player who missed her penalty kick, opening the door for a US victory. Between the New York Times, Newsweek and Time, everything focused on the United States' Victory and the ensuing celebration, but nothing focused on the Chinese player who failed to score. Talese points out that the most interesting question might be, "What was it like for a twenty-five-year-old-woman to screw up in this Communist regime emerging as a world power?" (p. 8) I thought this was an interesting take. I take in a lot of sports coverage, and almost every story focuses on the winning side of a given game or match. The more I think about it, I think this is because the level of effort required to obtain usable quotes from someone on the losing end is substantially more than that of someone on the winning side. From my own experience, I think the general bad mood displayed by players, coaches and representatives from a losing team can intimidate a reporter. I think this results in more abrupt interviews and more "softball" questions being tossed at the interviewee. After reading that section of Part 1, I am going to make a point to get more out of someone from the losing side when covering a game, which is something I've tried to avoid to this point in my career as a journalist.
Questions for class:
Is the basic, objective (inverted pyramid) format taught to all young journalists helping or hurting? Do the limitations imposed by that style take away from a reporter's curiosity and ability to be creative in the future? Since New Kings points to more creative pieces as some of the best writing, it makes me wonder if the inverted pyramid is something young reporters should learn later, rather than right away.