Lets make it personal

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I am wrestling with ideas right now as there is a conflict between the words of these authors and everything else I have learned about journalism over the past three years. It is difficult now for me to think about writing without considering the concepts of news and newsworthiness. This is most likely because I have only recently become aware of the difference between "news" and "journalism" and the fact that a writer who excels in one may not necessarily show promise in the other.
Many in the field of journalism hold the notion that it is bad practice to insert one's self into their story for fear of slanting news. This is where our discussion about the difference between bias and opinion or personal view becomes relevant.
Bill Buford says, "there is no such thing as the perceived without someone to do the perceiving, and that to exclude the circumstances surrounding the story is to tell the untruth."
Someone has to report the news; which means they first have to see it and experience it. Human beings do not have the ability to experience things objectively; and to pretend that is the case is just as bad as leaving out some of the news itself. The only way to fail in nonfiction is to lead readers astray and cause them to believe something other than the truth. To insert yourself into a story is to make it as honest as possible.
Now I suppose this is just the fundamental difference between reporting breaking news and writing "literary nonfiction", which is a term I often associate with "infotainment". But until now, I have overlooked the actual importance of, and necessity for this kind of personal transparency.
A good example of this is where Ira Glass writes, "when I am researching a story and the real-life situation starts to turn into allegory...I feel extremely lucky, and do everything in my power to expand that part of the story."
It's not reporting. It's storytelling. It IS entertainment, and ya know what? That's okay.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is what people want to read; but this kind of writing seems to carry a stigma. Many pass it off as "magazine journalism" and I want to know why.

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This page contains a single entry by novit009 published on January 21, 2010 12:21 PM.

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