Magazine article Editor & Publisher

All aboard the Narrative Train

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

All aboard the Narrative Train

Article excerpt

Narrative journalism can help newspapers prosper in a dot-com world. And reporters can inject emotion, dramatic reconstruction, and storytelling techniques into their stories without violating hallowed city desk standards of accuracy and sourcing.

Top journalists stressed all those points last month at Boston University's Narrative Train conference, attended by more than 675 reporters and editors from around the world.

"Narrative journalism darts into the news hole," said Mark Kramer, the conference organizer and a widely published magazine writer. "Tension and personality can deepen newspapers and give them personality," which he called vital as the newspaper-reading populace diminishes and ages.

Boston Globe Editor Matthew V. Storin said, "One of the great things about journalism is that you never stop learning."

Keynote speaker Christopher "Chip" Scanlan, the reporting, writing, and editing group leader at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., was one of many who reiterated that point. "This craft requires a lifelong dedication," said Scanlan, a former Providence (R.I.) Journal reporter and Knight Ridder Newspapers national correspondent. Writing isn't "magic," he said. "It's a process: a series of rational steps and decisions -- no matter what the deadline." He said all writers should emblazon this statement in 72-point type across their computer screens: "What happened -- and why does it matter?"

Globe reporter Mitchell Zukoff, among several speakers, insisted that narrative journalists must follow traditional newsroom rules. …

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