creative non-fiction/ journalism

The news is so fraught with bad news and sensationalism that sometimes I forget that there is another side to news journalism. A wander through the Pulitzer Prize website will make that clear — and give you many hours of good things to read. All the winning entries from the last five years or so are available online, for example: the 2006 Pulitzer prize for investigative reporting went to three journalists at the Washington Post for their expose and pursuit of the Abramoff scandal. All the articles in the series are there.

I am thinking about this because I read a story in the LA Times today. It’s well written and very engaging, about a grizzly bear attacking father and daughter who were hiking in Glacier National Park.

What worries me is that this crosses the sensationalism line. The first hint: this happened in 2005. Why the big, two part story with photos and video now? It seems as though the journalist was true to the facts, but the tone is definitely ramped up. Also, the article doesn’t make it clear if either father or daughter survived until the very end. That’s good storytelling, of course. But is it good journalism?

I’m not sure. Thoughts?

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28 Replies to “creative non-fiction/ journalism”

  1. WOOHOO! Congratulations! Good luck, Im very glad to hear the news. Hope all is well with your family and this brings a bright spot to an otherwise stressful time.

  2. Wow! I’m so excited. Thank you for continuing the series one more book. I feel like I know these people you’ve created, and now I’ll know them a little longer.
    -Soup

  3. Yay! That’s very good news. When you get into such a good “series”, you never want it to end. I wonder: do you have any idea how many books you’d like to write with those characters, or do you take one book at a time?

  4. It’s always nice to be sure of the next “fix”!
    ;) Yay, I really am excited! I dying to find out about Lily & Simon…

  5. Daniel’s a little young for me (and fictional) but I got a bit of a crush on him in the last book. And I’m happiest when I’m in Paradise with the Bonners, so this is excellent news. Thanks!

  6. Sheesh… I didn’t read the title: 6th and final Wilderness Novel. I’m sorry, I know stupid questions are so redundant!

  7. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
    Also, although please not for the next few days, consider a Post devoted to reader discussion of TTTT.

  8. This news brought a tear to my eye. Not sure if it was because we get another book, Yay, or if it was because it’ll be the last time we hear about Paradise. Either way i’m obviously a sook, but thanks for giving it to us anyway.

  9. Woohoo! thank you, thank you, thank you!! Very exciting news. The inner child in me is clapping her hands and wiggling her hips!

    Great news.
    Robyn

  10. Six books! A testament to your writing skills surely. I’m hard put to think of a series equal in length.Epic could be used to describe the wilderness series.

  11. This is wonderful news. I have not been this interested in a series in a long time. I usually like to wait and have all the books at one time so I can just keep reading. The wait has made it more interesting. Your give-away has made the wait easier. Never been in close contact to what an author is doing before either. This say a great deal about you. My hats off to you.

  12. Such a great series. Thank You. Your books piqued my family history. As they came from Montgomery Co. NY I could “see” from your writing,the area they had come from. I’m so happy for another book-congrats and take care!!

  13. Overjoyed to hear this…I just got my long-awaited copy of Fire Along the Sky this morning (please forgive me for being the last person in the world to buy this book- I’m a huge fan, but also a very poor European fan, and I wanted to buy a new copy to make sure you would get some income from my purchase!).

    Anyway, I’m not even two chapters in, and I’m entranced, of course. Once I get a chance to buy Tied to the Tracks I can start saving my pennies for what will undoubtedly be another awesome read.

  14. Lili — I’m honored, really. Thank you for your support.

    I’m going to give away another copy of TTTT, maybe that will be your lucky draw.

  15. The bear story is not news. It isn’t current. It isn’t written in newspaper style. Rarely are there quotes in newspapers; certainly there aren’t lots of quotes. This article should have been in a weekly or monthly periodical, maybe one having to do with national parks and safety precautions. A good article, just not a newspaper article.

    I discontinued my Scientific American subscription a few years ago when it attacked Robert Oppenheimer’s value system using today’s standards. When the US was possibly in jeopardy of being invaded in WWII, he was in charge of developing the atomic bomb and considered a hero. The article was not what that periodical is supposed to be about.

    So what do the bear story, the Oppenheimer story, and your publication date for Pajama Jones have in common? Maximize sales; maximize profits.

  16. asdfg’s comments are seconded by me.
    It all comes down to the almighty dollar in the end.
    It amazes me how some newspapers/broadcast networks etc manage to make something sensational out of even the most mundane fact. As their insatiable appetite to supply this type of ‘news’ seems to be fuelled by our (consumer) appetite for global gossip, my own small protest against this sort of thing is that I stopped buying women’s magazines and watching certain tv programmes/news items years ago.

  17. Define “good”. “Written material of current interest or wide popular appeal.”That’s one definition of Journalism. Seems ta fit the bill. Is it good? Apparently, lot of people read it. Personally, I’m curious if there was another story in the news that day that they were trying to distract from, hehehe.(conspiracy theory) Back to the bear story..there seemed a good balance between the “overcoming impossible odds” humanity, with the”..felt with my fingers and knew my scalp was gone” sensationalism. All good :P.

  18. I didn’t read the entire piece – but the beginning and ending of each article (read the April 29th and then the 30th ones) made me think it was an excerpt from a book. Survivor’s Stories, perhaps? I agree it’s good storytelling, but definitely not news. Like a serialized story, I felt strung along. A good marketing ploy – are newspapers turning to alternative content to sell? Instead of the Local and World sections, will we get News and Behind the News sections? Really felt like I was reading a book excerpt.

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