Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ray Ring and the Meaning of Journalism

Ray Ring struck the right notes on many things Wednesday, but I hope you caught his smart explanation of the different levels of reporting. Most of what we've done so far qualifies as what he called "template" journalism -- you know, deadline reporting about incidents or events in which we scramble to get perspective on what the news means and whom it might affect. Write enough of these and it's easy to see the formula.

Breaking that mold means digging for truth among competing versions, finding the reality behind the rhetoric, exposing problems that aren't apprarent. That's analysis or interpretation, and if you're going to do it credibly -- with confidence and authority -- you have do a ton of reporting. The writing has to be better too, because in most cases you'll be telling stories, not merely summarizing the news and listing facts to support your lead. Now's the time to use what you've soaked up in all those lit classes about storytelling, about developing characters, setting the mood, and building tension. Such stories live and die on the telling details you find.


danny person owes me money said...

As much as I enjoyed Ring's presentation, I was disappointed to find emersion journalism is a losing art.

It was like being shown a world of detectives, spies, fake passports and mystery; then learning the modern world allows none of it.

Lawyers are hungry and plentiful. How many papers can really afford enourmous court fees for stories that are, albeit entertaining and accurate, a giant liabilty? Certainly not the Mo Kai.

I think the type of journalism Ring and the Chicago Sun Tribune did many years ago is only practical today through novels and blogs. Why...? I'm not quite sure, good thing this is a forum, right?

Newzhound say what?

Danny B

Patrick Cross said...

I agree that emersion journalsim is less popular today than in Ray's day because of the case of the case of the journalists in the meat market. I remember the scandal of the hidden cameras and job application lies made bigger news than the scandal they uncovered.

But I think that Ray was aware of that, and that is why he mentioned the ways to get around liability, such as writing in second person or changing names.