1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

You are cordially invited to the Writer's Workshop to discuss narrative writing

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by KVV, Feb 3, 2007.

  1. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Investigative journalism and 5-part prep narratives are two different things.
    But, that's just me.
    And, remember, it's not "according to me."
    I read newspapers. I'm not the demo we're trying to attract.
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Gotcha. I didn't realize that newspapers were one of the victims of the Wal-Mart effect.
  3. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Re: You are cordially invited to the Writer's Workshop to discuss narrative writ

    You obviously didn't even bother to look at the story that was posted then if you think it's a simple prep narrative. It's not a story about a high school football game. It's a story about a community, education, and the lives if inner city kids mired in urban poverty. There are much larger issues at play. Of course it would be pointless if it were about a football game. But it's not. Maybe it's just me, but I like to actually read something (or at the very least skim it) before I dismiss it outright. I'm not sure if it succeeds or fails, but I admire the paper for at least attempting something like it.

    The Rocky Mountain News is currently doing a 33-part series about a school bus accident that occurred in 1961. Waste of time?
  4. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    No. You're right, in some respects. But, I did read this piece. (I work for the same shitty company.) The work is very good and of high-quality.
    I'm looking at this more "big picture." I'm just not sure there is an appetite for this story form anymore. That's my point.
  5. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    I've heard about the Rocky Mountain News project for a couple of years. I find it a worthwhile endevor. But, there is NO FUCKING WAY I'm reading 33 parts. And, you won't either.
  6. STLIrish

    STLIrish Active Member

    Fish, I fear you may be right. But if you are, if our audience really has no appetite for anything longer than 8 inches, then what's the point? Why bother?
    We can't win on speed anymore, the Internet got us there. And the wires, at least in sports, entertainment and non-local news, can cover the basics just fine. But where local and regional newspapers excel, and where no one else really can, is by offering depth. And whether that's depth through analysis, through context or through Capital S "Story" like KVV's excellent piece here, that's what we must offer if we're going to matter enough for our readers to keep on reading.
    I agree that lots of newspaper stories are too long. But that's because they're not really about anything. I'm not saying we should kill 30 inches on a gamer or a say-nothing process piece. But every day, in every section, we ought to have a couple of really smart, thoughtful stories that our readers can't get anywhere else. The kind of story KVV wrote. The kind that are worth our readers' 50 cents. And those usually take more than 8 inches.
    If we don't give them that, if we just perpetually dumb ourselves down, then what, exactly, are we asking our readers to pay for? And how can we expect to get any new ones. I wouldn't waste my time and money on stupidity. Why should they?
  7. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    No. No. No. I didn't mean for this to be Doomsday. It isn't. And, I agree with you. We need smart stories. Stories they can't get five minutes after they happen. You're right, we lose that battle.
    And, narrative, as a form, is okay. You can do a narrative in 40-50 inches, with photographs and graphics. I just don't see that average reader getting through a 5-part narrative. And, all the information available to me is consistent with that.
    That's my point. There has to be something between the 8 inches and the 5-part prep narrative.
  8. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    Fascinating concept; I also didn't realize newspapers were affected by Wal-Mart. But this makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the j-school lesson, FW.

    (and though that may come across cheesy, there is no blue sarcasm font in use)
  9. STLIrish

    STLIrish Active Member

    Fair enough. I can see the argument against long series like this one (although I don't think they're bad every now and then). And you're right, you can do a great narrative in 40 inches. Hell, in 15.
    I just see too many papers dumbing themselves down because "readers don't have time," so I feel the urge to climb on my soapbox against it. Didn't mean to take it out on you.
  10. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Sirs, Madames,

    I think that there might be more of a market for serialized journalism today than in the recent past. Online versions of newspapers give readers (I mean, real readers, not just those who make up the statistics in the circulation department ... rather people who enjoy reading) the ability to read more than one installment in a sitting or catch up when they've missed a day. Serialized work in newspapers and magazines goes back to Dickens and it will be around as long as the species is around.

    YHS, etc
  11. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    When was the last multi-issue piece you saw in SI? Not since their redesign.
    How about Time when they're not showing 300 employees the door?
    Now, how about Life? Oh, there is no Life Magazine anymore. Newsday?
    You have to go to The New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly before you go multi-issue.
    And that's rare.

    You see, we're just behind the curve.
  12. Pringle

    Pringle Active Member

    Different animal. Those publications can run 10,000-word stories in one issue, should they choose. We can't.

    Gary Smith's stories would run in multiple newspaper parts.

    Multiple-day projects are a better fit for newspapers.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page