Is Journalism Storytelling?

Using relevant theoretical perspectives considered during the semester and two examples of journalism, is journalism storytelling? Why?


Many journalists entered the profession for a simple reason – a love of storytelling. Journalism as storytelling has been found in many ways of the humanities. Storytelling is a valid way to share facts, ideas and to convince. The storytelling closely link to journalism where journalists want to reach their audience, to convince the reader that deep emotional level with their followers. Journalists have researched multiple ways that storytelling can utilize to reach to their audience in order to get audience’s attention.Moreover, McQuail (1992, Media Performance p291) states that ‘news’ is not impartial or objective. Things happen, but this does not mean that they become news – Not all the of events can be reported because of the sheer number. McQuail also argues that news is the product of socially manufactured production, because it’s the end result is a selective process. Gatekeepers, such as editors and journalists, and sometimes owners, to choose and judge what events are important enough to pay and how to cover them. News story can be used in journalism but at a price. Many journalists create stories may missing the fact in order to fill their space with personal opinions or emotion.This makes many viewers overlook these articles for audience they think more of the facts based.

Narrative journalism

However, with the idea of storytelling in journalism is has leaded to narrative journalism and long-form journalism. This type of journalism unlike directly news story, which provide the basic who, what, where, when and why of the story, instead, narrative news stories are longer and allow the writer to employ more elements of prose writing.Stories that are considered narrative journalism often appear in magazines and allow a reporter to approach a subject in different ways. Generations ago, narrative journalism was the rule of reporting, rather then the exception.Story (and sometimes subjectively and considerable by today’s standards) in the magazine and newspaper readers through a fascinating story to tell completely from the author’s views and experience.But, time have absolutely changed. Nowadays, narrative journalism is not commonly used by most mainstream media outlets. In fact, many journalists adhere to very basic formula or the use of “inverted pyramid” report style, to keep their writing style simple and easy to edit.Some may even not familiar with the technique, had never learned it as “beat” journalists in their career. however there is still a lot of room for narrative journalism in today’s world marketplace where the Internet is available all day and all night, and authors or journalists avid to test their competence using a new technique may truly enjoy writing a news “report that reads much more like a story than a series of objectively written paragraphs”(Angelique Caffrey ,2012)In the JoBenet Ramsey case, for instance,the media and news has obsessed for nearly two decade. “The Ramsey murder a decade ago, along with the O.J. Simpson case in 1994, as one journalist noted, “helped redefine mainstream journalism as a form of soap operatic storytelling,” i.e., were benchmarks in its degradation to its current wretched state.” (David Walsh,2006,p2)Jonbenet Ramsey’s death is a tragedy and its surroundings keep an ominous, but this is a cold case from 18 years ago.The continued interest in every detail of her murder case seems to imply that the past 18 years haven’t seen any other murder of innocent and pure children, until now, her novelty cases continue to control the public interest.the question is over so many years, why the case still has attracted the attention of journalism and the general public, indeed, “The newest headlines on JonBenet Ramsey are detrimental because they take the place of more valuable news stories.”(Carina Kolodny,2013,p16). Journalism as storytelling, in the narrative way make the news novelty and catch public’s attention.

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New-journalism storytelling

Primitively, journalism storytelling emerged on the newspapers in western countries, among which, Australia is a typical representative.Today, the highest wave of journalism storytelling presents in the press circle in America(Dubrovin 1995,p37).In the mid-19th century, majorities of the developed countries in Europe and America realized industrial revolutions.During that period, the economy conditions in these countries were dramatically improved, the urbanization was accelerated, and the presses publishing newspapers on liberalism were established.The political parties reduced forces on the press and numerous cheap newspapers without independent political and economic restrictions were published(Connery 1992,p14).On September 3, 1833,The Sunwas established, officially symbolizing the emergence of cheap newspapers.Subsequently in America, the most developed country, cheap newspapers represented byThe SunandThe Heraldemerged in succession(Chance 2001).With the purpose of making profits, varieties of social news were issued on these newspapers to meet the demands of low-educated and poorly off citizens and to avoid offending the political parties and the government that could affect the development of the newspapers(Cassady 1990).These pieces of news written by vulgar words and sentences were mainly about interesting and exciting stories collected from the public’s social life.The appearance of such popular newspapers is viewed as the origin of journalism storytelling. During 1960 to 1970, a new genre of journalism, the New-journalism, emerged in western countries. “It emphasized to obtain opinions on internal events by perceiving and interviewing, instead of approaches of regular information collection and stereotypical questionnaire surveys”(Cassady 1991).Techniques of expression of writing novels were also adopted.It laid stress on the writing methods and description styles. “New-journalism theoretically put forward the composing direction for news storytelling, making a space for the literary journalism”(Eason 1981).It was particularly popular in that period and was significantly recorded on the history of Australian journalism.Except for that it meet the demand of the times, New-journalism has some characteristics which include the following:

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Firstly,new-journalism broke the traditional news model of stating the facts impersonally.Coming to the front stage from the backstage(Eason 1981,), the journalists directly expressed their moods, feelings, and opinions or suggestions when editing the news stories.In newswriting, the journalists’ subject consciousnesses and emotions were presented and strengthened(Eason 1981).Secondly,new-journalism enriched expression skills for news reports.It adopted methods of novel writing, combined news with literature, and satisfied the public’s needs of listening stories.Various literary expression skills, such as multi-scenes combination, the third person narration, the first person narration, details description, compound characters, and composition ways of making flashback, repetition, indication, and suspense(Farrell 1991).It changed the stereotypical inverted pyramid writing model and showed audiences a lively world that the journalists perceive, expanding selections for the public and meeting the public’s demand for diverse cultures(Ducey 1997).New-journalism in western countries gradually fade with a short brilliant history.However, the journalism storytelling became attractive to the public.

Journalism and news as social construction

It is hard for journalism, in any form, to be a true construction or reflection of society, on account of the factor included in the production of news. Human interest, human fault and the fallacy of the management, and other factors interweave together, blurred the boundaries between fact and fiction. Potter(1998; p15) demonstrated that “news is not something that happens; instead, news is what gets presented. We almost never see news events as they happen. Instead, we are shown the media’s manufactured construction of the events.” Yet journalism can be defined very simply as storytelling or news information of any form. However, not all of the current events or stories can be presented in the media, and like this, only news are considered as “news value” or “newsworthy is able to bring it into the media for spread to the audience and general public. According to Galtung and Ruge(1970), “the earliest form of systematic classification for newsworthiness”(Tony Harcup & Deirdre O’Neill

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p261-280), there are eleven news values, the meeting will make the event is more likely in news to be reported. The news values are frequency, clarity, consonance, continuity, actions of the elite, negativity,threshold, cultural proximity,unexpectedness, composition and personification. In the above-mentioned system, the story to satisfy the more points or value, the greater the chance that it will be published in the news. News report channels use the relaxing and interesting way of storytelling to convey information to the mass.Journalism storytelling is popular with the audiences, however, with its rapid development, some shortages are increasingly exposed. Journalism storytelling has erroneous tendency to negative events.Generally, in order to catch the audience’s eyes, the news contents are easily focus on happenings from the dark side of the society.Taking an example of how the news value are applied in selection of a story, the 9-11 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre towers in NYC, the news has a large number of news values, the magnitude of this plane attacks made them relate all over the world and that kind of news about crime and violence are often reported, even events on disaster or damage are mainly propagated.There are positive reports to revive the whole process and details of the events; however details description on murder, eroticism, and other stodgy and low-class events are over presented(Breneman 1983).On the whole, journalism storytelling is lack of true and impersonal perspectives and the public’s supervision function on its news contents is weakened.Frequently, bloody events that are not related to the common people’s daily life are played on the life channels.The stimulating and abnormal scenes, ironic tittles and topics are often highlighted to attract the audience’s attention and to make the news stories widely spread.Such effects turn out to be over-commercialized, which are of unhealthy impacts on the public’s life.

Reference list

  1. Denis McQuail, 1992, Media Performance:Mass Communication and the Public Interest, London/California,P291
  2. Angelique Caffrey,2012,Journalism and Narrative Journalism,p2
  3. David Walsh,2006, US media disgraces itself once again: Rush to judgment in the JonBenet Ramsey case,p2
  4. Carina Kolodny,2013,Why Do We Care About JonBenet Ramsey?p16
  5. Vivian Dubrovin (1995),Create Your Own Storytelling Stories,p37
  6. Connery, Thomas B, 1992, Discovering a Literary Form.” A Sourcebook of American Literary journalism:Representative Writers in an Emerging Genre. New York: Greenwood,p14
  7. W.James Potter, 1998, Theory of Media Literacy:A Cognitive Approach USA,p15
  8. Tony Harcup & Deirdre O’Neill, 2010,What is News?:Galtung and Ruge revisited; p261-280
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