Posts Tagged ‘alternative journalism’

Earlier this week, Harold Washington Public Library hosted a panel discussion titled, “Journalism: New and Now – How to Tell Our Stories.” For all you fledgling (or not so fledgling) journalists, filmmakers, writers, bloggers and whatever else – check out the podcast featuring Allison Cuddy, Luis Alberto Urrea, Steve James, and Alex Kotlowitz.

The central topic of discussion revolved around Tom Wolfe’s essay, “The New Journalism.” Wolfe declares that non-fiction storytelling would always trump fictional storytelling. The moderator began the discussion by questioning the relevance of the term “new journalism” as well as circling topics related to the guiding principles of journalism, information immediacy versus the process of storytelling and differences in narrative abroad. The panelists touched upon new ideas associated with storytelling with respect to the explosion of narrative in media, the natural progression towards varied types of storytelling and the inter-connectedness of audience, writer and subject.

The grittiness that resides in non-fiction narratives will, in most ways, always surpass fictional ones.  This is not to imply that fiction doesn’t garner attention towards serious subject matter, or can’t (in its own way) tether itself to ideas that compel its audience to understand various realities.  Philosophically, Wolfe’s opinion originates from the idea that fiction focuses on the question of “What if?” whereas non-fiction is openly centered on “What is.”  This single factor is the driving force of non-fiction narrative and the singularly most confrontational component in “new journalism.”

Comparably, as in film, there is a necessary suspension of disbelief obliviously applied to fictional stories that cannot be justifiably directed to non-fiction. As such, readers are confronted with a very real and true situation that, whether they like it or not, are forced to imagine because it actually exists. The acknowledgement of this existence is what gives non-fiction its trump – its intrinsic value hinges on being cognizant of recognizing the story within the real.

For all those aspiring writers, journalists, etc. in the universe – how do you feel about the idea that truth will always trump fiction?


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swingJon Fine, author of Businessweek’s weekly column, “Media Centric” brought up the interesting topic of blogs/alternative journalism and their influcence on politics.

Essentially, Fine surmised that blogs and the new wave journalism won’t have much of an affect on voting trends and election campaigns.

Political bloggers and readers alike have already made up their mind early on (thus named “high information voters”) . The electoral campaign is currently focusing on the slow pokes just now catching up to the bubbly political brew that is McCain and Obama (this group is imaginitively dubbed “low information voters).

I believe Fine makes a valid (and obvious) point. With the information overload that plagues the radio, broadcast television and now, the internet – I can imagine there will be only so many people who can pretend they have enough time to read the endless maze of blogs available.

According to Fine,

“Congrats if you can spit out the results of the last three Ohio polls right down to the margin of error, but the campaigns care more about the harried parents of three kids in exurban Colorado who’ve only started to pay attention.

As always, those voters will be pounded with messages as simplistic as an old Miller Lite ad.”


Anyway, it’s obvious with every election year (and turbulent presidential incumbant years) people hungry for change are most likely to investigate their options early, hence, pegging themselves into the “high information” voter category. As Fine puts it, over extended parents in places like Colorado probably haven’t had the time or energy to pay attention to the campaign. 

Even with enough YouTube, political blogs, Democrat demonizing and Republican griping at their (internet) fingertips- swing voters want to be wooed the old-fashioned way.

They are most likely worried about crippling gas prices, dwindling 401(k) values resulting from the reeling of Wall Street and the uncertainty of their home’s equity (not to mention job security and healthcare costs).

This is not to imply that high information voters are not in the same boat as their Colorado-esque counterparts, I only want to suggest that the latter demographic presents – cha-ching- swing voters. 

Virtually, the voting equivalent of an NFL free agent – up for grabs from the highest (or, in this case, most politically beneficial) bidder.

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