Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Literary Journalism and how it can save newspapers

Over at Poynter Online,there is an interview with Norman Sims whose latest book,True stories,a century of literary journalism claims that it could be the product that will save newspaper journalism.

More valuable than anything, perhaps, is simply paying attention to ordinary life in your community. Feature stories about ordinary people can bring together readers with a taste for good prose and writers with literary ambitions -- to everyone's benefit, including the newspaper itself.

Sims sees

a degree of stress in public affairs journalism that wasn't there 10 or 20 years ago. Newspaper staffs have been reduced and there are fewer resources available to support the newspaper's job of covering government and doing independent investigative reporting. There's still plenty of great work being done, but people inside the industry are now questioning whether or not the fundamental nature of American democracy will change if newspapers continue down this path.

His book,reflects on the sketch,short stories that appeared in papers in the 19th century but died out

when facts-consciousness and objectivity were newfound darlings in the press
leaving an industry where

The woeful state of contemporary newspapers may be a consequence of the objective, impersonal style of newspaper reporting

Sims adds that

On the journalistic roller-coaster ride of the 20th century, the major styles, such as muckraking, interpretative reporting, and even investigative journalism, did not remove the reporter from the text, but objectivity did. To the extent that the movement toward objectivity removed the voice of the reporter, literary journalism was in a different camp.

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