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Literary Journalism

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Amy Weber

on 5 November 2012

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Transcript of Literary Journalism

Literary journalism is a form of creative non-fiction that combines characteristics of journalism and literature. What is the History of Literary Journalism? Literary journalism employs the factual reporting techniques of journalism coupled with narrative styles typically found in fiction writing. In the 1960s, literary journalism as a genre became popular. This "new" form of journalism was appropriately called "New Journalism." What is Literary Journalism? Literary journalism seeks to answer the questions of traditional journalism while also addressing the element of human nature. journalism literature literary journalism Literary
Journalism Literary journalism is distinguished from other forms of creative non-fiction such as:
memoirs
personal essays
food writing
travel writing Literary journalism explores universal truths in the context of a story about a specific subject. Famous New Journalists include: Truman Capote Hunter S. Thompson Tom Wolfe an Introduction "I got this idea of doing a really serious big work-it would be precisely like a novel, with a single difference: Every word of it would be true from beginning to end." "If I'd written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people - including me - would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism." “The problem with fiction, it has to be plausible. That's not true with non-fiction.” What are the Characteristics of Literary Journalism? Uses dramatic literary techniques Based upon intensive immersion reporting Factually accurate Answers the questions who, what, when, where, and why Seeks to answer a "universal truth" or "big idea." Examples of literary journalism can be traced back to at least the early 1800s. Early pioneers of literary journalism include: Edgar Allan Poe “Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” George Orwell "Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." Mark Twain "Don't say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream." Today's literary journalists include: Susan Orlean “An ordinary life examined closely reveals itself to be exquisite and complicated and exceptional, somehow managing to be both heroic and plain.” Malcom Gladwell “There is a simple way to package information that, under the right circumstances, can make it irresistible. All you have to do is find it.” Tracy Kidder "What I like about non-fiction is that it covers such a huge territory. The best non-fiction is also creative." Example:
"Feet up, Werner dialed Eugene, Oregon, and had a nice conversation with his mother. He liked to call home late, when they were just getting to the end of their West Coast day and he was still energized, sitting in his skivvies in the overhot apartment. The walls were bumpy and pocked, thick plaster reinforced with horsehair, but he had whitewashed them and hired someone to refinish the wood floors. They were hay-colored and gleamed in the lamplight. His paintings hung here and there, dark backgrounds with shapes emerging out of them—construction machinery, the camshaft of an ocean liner, simple tools, almost but not quite abstract."
"Werner" by Jo Ann Beard In the article "An American Male at Age 10," Susan Orlean profiles Colin Duffy, a 10 year old boy of New Jersey. Although Orlean never comes right out and says it, the point of the piece is to explore the "coming of age" dynamic through the lens of one particular boy. In this article, all five questions are answered in the first two paragraphs:

"The enormous, pungent, and extremely well marketed Maine Lobster Festival is held every late July in the state’s midcoast region, meaning the western side of Penobscot Bay, the nerve stem of Maine’s lobster industry." (What, When, Where)

"Tourism and lobster are the midcoast region’s two main industries, and they’re both warm-weather enterprises, and the Maine Lobster Festival represents less an intersection of the industries than a deliberate collision, joyful and lucrative and loud." (Why)

"Your assigned correspondent saw it all, accompanied by one girlfriend and both his own parents..." (Who)
"Consider the Lobster" by David Foster Wallace In her book "Nickled and Dimed," author Barbara Ehrenreich supported herself on low wage jobs in 1999 and 2000 to understand what it takes to survive in America as an "unskilled" worker. Nothing is more important than truth in non-fiction. Just ask Ruth Shalit, Jayson Blair, or Stephen Glass. Where do you find literary journalism? In Magazines: Atlantic Monthly
Rolling Stone
The New Yorker
Harper's
Slate
New York
5280 In Books: In Cold Blood (Truman Capote)
State of Denial (Bob Woodward)
What the Dog Saw (Malcolm Gladwell)
Plutocrats (Chrystia Freeland) In Newspapers
(although to a lesser extent): The writing technique employed in traditional journalism, by contrast, is designed to deliver information in a straight-forward manner, with the most important information given first. On the other hand, traditional journalism, much like Sgt. Joe Friday, is interested in "just the facts, ma'am." While traditional journalism devotes itself to the concrete, literary journalism is more interested in delving equally into the concrete and abstract. So, although literary journalism is non-fiction, it reads like a story, with characters, scenes, and, in some cases, even plot. Sources, Credits, and Further Reading Sources: All quotes courtesy of Brainy Quote www.brainyquote.com except Susan Orlean, courtesy of Good Reads http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/45374.Susan_Orlean. Spadora, Brian. "The Future of News: A Case for Literary Journalism." Poynter.org. Web. 1 Nov 12. http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/top-stories/86652/the-future-of-news-a-case-for-literary-journalism/ Stovall, Jim. "Literary Journalism." Video. Web. 31 Oct 12. http://vimeo.com/10548874 Photo Credits: Edgar Allan Poe, George Orwell, Mark Twain all courtesy of Newseum http://www.newseum.org/news/2011/10/literary-journalists.html
Truman Capote courtesy of Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truman_Capote
Hunter S. Thompson courtesy of Sabotage Times http://www.sabotagetimes.com/people/the-real-hunter-s-thompson-by-the-man-who-knew-him-best/
Tom Wolfe courtesy of Academy of Achievement http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/wol0int-1
Susan Orlean courtesy of The Days of Yore http://www.thedaysofyore.com/susan-orlean/
Malcolm Gladwell courtesy of Random House http://www.randomhouse.com/rhpg/rc/2010/12/17/a-one-on-one-conversation-between-malcolm-gladwell-and-tom-rachman-author-of-the-imperfectionists
Tracy Kidder courtesy of The Atlantic http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/99apr/990477.htm Photo Credits (cont):
Joe Friday courtesy of Seattle Times www.seattletimes.com
Atlantic Monthly www.theatlantic.com
Rolling Stone www.rollingstone.com
5280 www.5280.com
Harper’s www.harpers.org
New Yorker www.newyorker.com
Book cover photos all courtesy of Amazon www.amazon.com For Further Reading: "The Jayson Blair Affair" http://ajr.org/article.asp?id=3019
"Too Much Too Soon?" http://www.ajr.org/article.asp?id=1622
"Shattered Glass" http://www.vanityfair.com/magazine/archive/1998/09/bissinger199809
"An American Male at Age 10" http://www.courses.vcu.edu/ENG200-dwc/orlean.htm
"Consider the Lobster" http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/2000s/2004/08/consider_the_lobster
"Werner." Jo Ann Beard. The Best American Essays 2007. Houghton Millfin Company, Boston, 2007. Wolfe, Tom. "The Birth of 'The New Journalism'; Eyewitness Report by Tom Wolfe." New York Magazine. 14 Feb 72. Web. 28 Oct 12. http://nymag.com/news/media/47353/index4.html Amy Weber
ENGL 4190
Prof. Addison
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