The era of “narrative journalism” is upon us

posted at 2:01 pm on December 4, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

All of the coverage of Ferguson (and now Staten Island) is providing yet another glaring example of a long settled trend in journalism which applies to far more stories than just episodes of racial tension and law enforcement issues. The vast majority of the mainstream press seems to quickly fall in line with an interpretation of each story and, more importantly (to them) the larger meaning of it all. While some amount of analysis is expected, as well as potentially useful, when the narrative takes over the actual news, well… Houston, we have a problem. Jim Geraghty refers to this as narrative journalism.

What if the mainstream media’s increasing devotion to “narrative journalism” – preconceived storylines that fit a particular agenda or political or ideological view, almost always progressive – as opposed to say, “factual journalism” — is actually harmful to the causes they seek to advance?

We’ve seen the media’s “narrative journalism” insisting that Officer Darren Wilson’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown represented a vivid, awful example of racist police forces recklessly using deadly force against defenseless black men. The grand jury remained unconvinced. They saw too many pieces of evidence and witness testimonies that contracted that simple morality play.

The media’s “narrative journalism” contended that George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin represented a brutal crime, revealing a reckless, gun-toting vigilantism loose on the streets of America, preying upon innocent young black men. The jury looked at the available evidence and acquitted Zimmerman. All that one-sided “narrative journalism” left a portion of their audience completely unprepared for the jury’s decision, because it seemed so contrary to everything they had been told.

Jim highlights a problem totally separate from complaints about low standards in news coverage. It’s fair to ask if narrative journalism is doing more harm to the public than simply leaving them uninformed or misinformed. What if they are serving up unrealistic expectations which, when unfulfilled, produce a volatile response? Geraghty notes the example of George Zimmerman. The media narrative was not only that Zimmerman was guilty (and a horrible racist to boot) but that he would almost surely face “justice” at a later date at the hands of either a federal civil rights charge or a wrongful death suit brought by the Martin family. But the media almost entirely failed to note that the Justice Department has pretty much given up on that idea. And absent a conviction on that count, the wrongful death suit loses much of its appeal and may never happen either. So the pre-set expectations of the masses were not met and anger simmered.

Now apply that line of reasoning to the situation in Ferguson. The unending drumbeat from the press was a series of deep dive stories about how Darren Wilson was obviously guilty of murder and either justice would be served upon him or the case would stand as proof that America was a hopelessly hateful place for persons of color and in need of correction by any means at hand. Did cable news build up such an expectation in the minds of the viewers that the eventual decision of the grand jury was unfathomable to them? Did they program the eventual violence and mayhem into the formula?

One has to wonder how things might have played out on the streets of Ferguson last month if everyone had been awaiting an outcome which was explained as being unknown and totally dependent on evidence to which the public and the cable news talking heads were not privy. Would it have made a difference? Impossible to say, as it remains a complete hypothetical, but it would be instructive to find out if we could.


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Comments

The era of “narrative journalism” is upon us.

I believe that’s what they called it in old Soviet Union comrade.

Da … Pravda was “narrative journalism”. You believe or else.

darwin on December 4, 2014 at 2:05 PM

The news is pretty much all propaganda now, you might as well just accept that.

Anyone wanting actual facts can usually get them much faster and with much greater accuracy by googling. The only thing news outlets can do is wrap their opinion around a few (optional) facts and hope the viewers see it as a value add.

Magicjava on December 4, 2014 at 2:07 PM

MSM: Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Fred 2 on December 4, 2014 at 2:07 PM

I’m just glad we cured ebola.

rogerb on December 4, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Narrative journalism is to journalism as social justice is to justice. They are opposites, and both are tools of the left to destroy America.

Flange on December 4, 2014 at 2:08 PM

In other breaking news, water is still wet.

awake on December 4, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Any room in that narrative for the story of the murder of Bosnian Muslim Zemir Begic by hammer wielding thugs in St. Louis last weekend?

Probably not, huh?

Thought so.

Bruno Strozek on December 4, 2014 at 2:09 PM

An oxymoron for sure.
There is no “journalism” anymore, just “narrative”.

Pelosi Schmelosi on December 4, 2014 at 2:09 PM

The era of “narrative journalism” is upon us

Jazz, you drinking again?!?! Upon us?!?! Lolz!

Bmore on December 4, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Jim highlights a problem totally separate from complaints about low standards in news coverage. It’s fair to ask if narrative journalism is doing more harm to the public than simply leaving them uninformed or misinformed. What if they are serving up unrealistic expectations which, when unfulfilled, produce a volatile response.


So … this is your narrative of Jim’s narrative on the Narrative?

PolAgnostic on December 4, 2014 at 2:10 PM

I haven’t listened to them in the past. I won’t listen to them now, or in the future.

Basically, I don’t give two sh*ts what they say or think.

They are the enemy. They are co-conspirators in the Left’s attempt to destroy America, and should be treated as such.

Meople on December 4, 2014 at 2:11 PM

It is more important to observe what they don’t report….

d1carter on December 4, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Jim Geraghty refers to this as narrative journalism.

Why the need for a new name that obfuscates what this is? It’s nothing but rehashed plain, ol’ leftist propaganda. LIntellectually offensive lies in support of the nihilistic leftist plan for society’s suicide.

It is a great disservice to society to slap a nice, new name on this old line of assault. “Narrative journalism” … that sounds all nice and fuzzy … when the reality is harsh, nasty and as destructive as all get-out.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on December 4, 2014 at 2:14 PM

d1carter on December 4, 2014 at 2:14 PM

ahem…..

d1carter on December 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM

So … this is your narrative of Jim’s narrative on the Narrative?

PolAgnostic on December 4, 2014 at 2:10 PM

We interrupt this narrative on a narrative of Jim’s narrative on narratives to bring you a new narrative.

Flange on December 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM

I call it corruption….

d1carter on December 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Little of the Staten Island coverage that I have seen asks why the grand jury made their decision. I can see that the media and even many HA posters simply do not care to find out.

CW on December 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM

The era of “narrative journalism” is upon us

FIFY. Journalism is a box of bones buried six feet under and encased in cement.

nico on December 4, 2014 at 2:16 PM

And absent a conviction on that count, the wrongful death suit loses much of its appeal and may never happen either.

The family was paid off by the Homeowners Assoc. As for a civil suit against Zimmerman; he’s got no money to speak of, and “Poor Trayvon’s” character would be an issue in open court. That’s the LAST thing that family wants.

As for the MSM…..might as well use what you have to distract from The Obamassiah and his administration of Perpetual Screw-ups.

GarandFan on December 4, 2014 at 2:17 PM

‘The Narrative’ coverage allows the media to overlook all sorts of inconvenient truths…

Note To The Race Hustlers: Data Shows Cops In One Year Killed 326 Whites With A Gun Versus 123 Blacks Killed…

* Police killings of blacks down 70% in last 50 years

* In 2012, 123 blacks were killed by police with a gun

* In 2012, 326 whites were killed with a gun

* In 2013, blacks committed 5,375 murders

* In 2013, whites committed 4,396 murders

* Whites are 63% of the population blacks are 13%

1) On 11 August 2014, a black police officer shot and killed an unarmed, 20 year-old white man by the name of Dillon Young as he was leaving a 7-11 in Salt Lake City.

He was cleared.

No grand jury.

No charges.

No concern shown by Obama, Holder, Sharpton, or the Congressional Black Caucus.

No media coverage.

No riots.

2) On 6 October 2012, black officer, Trevis Austin, shot and killed an 18 year-old, unarmed, white man, Gilbert Collar, who – like Michael Brown – was under the influence.

Grand jury refused to indict.

No concern shown by Obama, Holder, Sharpton, or the Congressional Black Caucus.

No media coverage.

No riots.

3) On 12 April 2011, an unarmed, decorated Iraqi war veteran, James Whitehead, was fatally shot by a black officer (with known anger management problems), Robert Arnold, who was off-duty, out of uniform, and not carrying a badge. Witnesses claimed that Arnold killed Whitehead after the latter made a racially derogatory term. According to the witnesses, Arnold continued to taunt Whitehead AFTER he had been shot. Arnold’s fellow police officers believed that he should have been charged with murder. Arnold enlisted race-baiting lawyer by the name of Cade Bernsen (the white Al Sharpton) to sue the city claiming he was fired because he was black and not because he shot an unarmed white man.

No grand jury.

No charges.

No concern shown by Obama, Holder, Sharpton, or the Congressional Black Caucus.

No media coverage.

No riots.

4) On 23 September 2014, a black police officer shot and killed a 14-year old black teen, who was ‘armed’ with a BB-gun and an outstanding athlete and beloved by members of all races at his school, by the name of Cameron Tillman. Tillman, who had been playing with his friends at an abandoned house, was killed when he opened the door – believing it was his friends – and was fatally shot by a 7-year veteran of the patrol division, a field training officer and a member of the Terrebonne Parish (LA) Sheriff’s Office SWAT team. The officer was an African-American.

No grand jury.

No charges.

No concern shown by Obama, Holder, Sharpton, or the Congressional Black Caucus.

No media coverage.

No riots.

5) On Monday, Dehmi Moore attacked and repeatedly stabbed a ‘white female’ during a class at San Joaquin Delta College because she was a ‘white female’.

A brutal attack after a math class at the San Joaquin Delta College is being classified as a hate crime.

Police say 23-year-old Dehmi Moore repeatedly stabbed a classmate in the face with a pen.

“She had two puncture marks – one on her eyelid and the other other on the top of her head and she was bleeding rather significantly,” Delta College Police Officer Jim Bock said.

Campus police were able to catch up with Moore a few buildings over. Moore was arrested on an assault with a deadly weapon charge but, after talking with her, another charge was added – hate crime.

“When we asked why she attacked the girl, it wasn’t just because of the comments made in the classroom, she expressed it was because she was a white female,” Bock said.

No concern shown by Obama, Holder, Sharpton, or the Congressional Black Caucus.

No media coverage.

No riots.

6) On 1 February 2014, a white policeman by the name of Kevin Quick, who was a reserve Virginia officer, was abducted, kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by FOUR African-American members of the gang, 99 Goon Syndikat, who were charged with first-degree murder, and TWO other black, members of the same gang, who were charged with second-degree murder.

No concern shown by Obama, Holder, Sharpton, or the Congressional Black Caucus. In fact, Attorney General Eric Holder took the death penalty off the table even for these thugs, who had previously served time for violent offences.

No media coverage.

No riots.

See, in this case, it wasn’t an Islamic terrorist, who was ‘tortured’…just a white cop, who was carjacked, tortured, and murdered by a bunch of fvcking thugs.

7) And, don’t even get me started about what happened to poor Zemir Begic at the hands of FOUR ANIMALS.

And, I can find many more…

Resist We Much on December 4, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Who made this a national crisis…?

d1carter on December 4, 2014 at 2:19 PM

Edgar Allan Poe, the father of modern journalism.

dedomenologist on December 4, 2014 at 2:19 PM

Weird, weird, weird land

Schadenfreude on December 4, 2014 at 2:20 PM

well… Houston, we have a problem

speaking for all of Houston we say deal with it, we’re too busy workin’ to watch y’all make stuff up and debate its importance

DanMan on December 4, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Most in the media have ignored the Zemir Begic case in St Louis….should they be calling for a civil rights investigation? Should HA even cover the facts in the case?

d1carter on December 4, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Narrative Journalism has been around since the word “gravitas” lept into the political lexicon.

Gravitas. Who uses such an insipid adjective? Oh, the Lemming news talkers.

BigAlSouth on December 4, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Some sort of kerfluffle about Rolling Stone and another Jayon Blair-sort of story about University of Virginia all initially accepted hook line and sinker by the “narrative” crowd until the facts got in the way.

At the same time whilst “narrative journalists” are way too willing to go after cops, and unconditionally defend poor unfortunate gangbanger Black youth…they bristle whenever some person some where, after the gunfire and Allahakhbar’s have quieted down, dare to suggest that islam had anything to do with the bloody event.

I owe it to the post-Watergate Dustin Hoffman/Robert Redford mindset all across the school of journalism set back in the 70’s…journalists were then hailed as the last line of defense against oppressive government and usurping of the Constitution. Ironically, today, these students all grown up, are now the epitome of propagandists for oppressive governance and the Constitution? Forgotten, save for that “freedom of speech” thing…except there are so many things citizens can no longer say, and the diligent press way too eager to pounce, be they teachers, corporate heads, sundry officials, or even doctors of neurosurgery and the like.

Yep, heady times back when Woodward and Berstein broke the Watergate thing [small potatoes compared to current shenanigans in the White House] but somewhere along the way ethics were tossed aside and replaced by a Jayson Blair/Sabrina Erdely ethos that anything goes so long as the story sorta rings “true.” Facts? Facts are hard.

And, once upon a time, readers and viewership bristled when a microphone was shoved into a grieving parent’s face with the question, “How do you feel?”

coldwarrior on December 4, 2014 at 2:27 PM

I call it corruption….

d1carter on December 4, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Here in Texas, we call it horse sh*t..

bimmcorp on December 4, 2014 at 2:30 PM

The era of “narrative journalism” is upon us

Hasn’t it been since Cronkite announced the Vietnam War is lost?

Liam on December 4, 2014 at 2:31 PM

This is a FOX Narrative BREAKING narrative…

Galtian on December 4, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Narrative Journalism-

sounds like a fancy way to say “Gonzo Journalism”.

Buncha pikers, Hunter S. Thompson was doin’ this krep 40 odd years ago.

GrassMudHorsey on December 4, 2014 at 2:32 PM

‘Resist”, continue to resist lies and cover-ups. Loved your info.

vnvet on December 4, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Ayup.

The Rogue Tomato on December 4, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Wow, there is just no black on black crime. It’s all cop on black type of violence.

Oil Can on December 4, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Ot- today’s factoid. The first self-made female American millionaire was Cj WALKER. She happened to be black and she died in 1919. Yes, 1919.

CW on December 4, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Narrative journalism soaked up what Gruber had to say.

docflash on December 4, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Not to excuse the MSM, but I’m pretty sure journalism has always been “narrative”. It certainly was during the revolutionary era and “guilded age”.

Count to 10 on December 4, 2014 at 2:47 PM

The era of “narrative journalism” is upon us

Hasn’t it been since Cronkite announced the Vietnam War is lost?

Liam on December 4, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Yes, in the “progressive” sense.

There was narrative journalism during the World Wars, except the narrative was that America was good and right and our enemies were bad and wrong.

I think that is what has changed, the post-War generations who were marinated in post-War America were vulnerable to the new narrative, which by coincidence the Soviets had carefully crafted themselves and had an intelligence operation underway to undermine Western Capitalism from the inside by infiltrating the institutions.

This self-hating guilt dominated narrative is a product of Soviet intelligence, and it has worked and is working better than they could have dreamed.

Brian1972 on December 4, 2014 at 2:50 PM

You mean like supposed news articles from wire services that refer to “far right” and “extremists” when referring to conservatives, but NEVER say “far left” or extremist when referring to liberals

Senator Philip Bluster on December 4, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Resist We Much on December 4, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Good work.

PD Quig on December 4, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Here’s yet another prime example of what the media is doing to us…. A Yahoo News article from a few days ago, along with a few similar reports sensationalist propaganda stories elsewhere. Like there isn’t enough gasoline on the Ferguson bonfire already, the mainstream media just keeps pouring more on: Pregnant St. Louis woman loses left eye after police officer shoots non-lethal round at car

First, note the inflammatory headline – it sounds so factual, unless you dig into it and discover the rest of the story….

Read the article and it seems an innocent young girl – pregnant no less – with her boyfriend, just happen to be at a St. Louis gas station late Monday night, doing nothing wrong, winds up with a cop shooting a beanbag round (non-lethal) at her for no discernible reason, just out of the blue (no pun intended), while she’s just sitting in the car getting ready to leave (after having attended the protests because they were angry about the Grand Jury results). A few other articles quotes her: “She told Kmov.com: ‘I didn’t have any weapons, I wasn’t looting or anything. I was just out with my boyfriend. We was just riding around respecting Mike Brown.’” Daily Mail goes so far as to put a top large bold bulleted item that she was blinded (not mentioning only in one eye until down in the article itself). So we learn she’s Innocent and UNARMED no less. Anyhow, the beanbag shot fired breaks the window and damages her face and eye so badly it has to be removed robbing her of sight in that eye, and the eyesight in her other eye is also affected although likely temporarily. Oh, and after the incident happened, she was able to find a different cop to help her. Which gives the impression that the cop that shot the beanbag was too big an arse to even help the young pregnant woman he had just very seriously injured. And she’s determined to get justice for this abuse of power and unwarranted racially motivated attack.

And of course they include the obligatory photo of the poor young innocent pregnant black girl lying in the hospital bed with a huge patch over her eye looking hurt and forlorn.

““[I’m] blind in my left eye and they took it out because I got shot in my face so I can only see in my right eye, but thank God that i can see the world and still alive,” she wrote. “I’m in a lot of pain but I’m ok.” And: “I will have justice for what they did to me but I’m happy I’m alive,” she wrote on Facebook on Thanksgiving.”

See how reasonable she is, and how emotionally moving the story is? Look, she’s such an angle and so magnanimous after loosing her eye she STILL finds a way to give thanks on this national holiday (never mind her thanks ensures we’re all envisioning the worst possible outcome that might have happened, all caused by this evil cop). We can ALL pull for this. We’re all infuriated by the brutality and injustice. Just look at the blatant racism by the thug cop! Only an absolute monster wouldn’t feel strongly for this girl’s plight and be infuriated at the abusive police!!

It certainly fits the preferred narrative all the way around, doesn’t it.

Little problem. Apparently when you research the story a little more, it turns out that she was at a gas station that was being looted, where 16 others were also arrested at the same time – around 2 am Tuesday morning no less. Side note, turns out this young woman (24 yr. old) has two other daughters, one two years old, another eight years old (which she had when only 16 years old). So what is a young pregnant single mother doing out at 2 am on a Tuesday at a gas station that’s being looted, with ??? caring for her two young childern elsewhere? In other reports you discover she says: ““just riding around and respecting Mike Brown” when they stopped at a gas station.” And wait, it also turns out that multiple gunshots were being fired by the looters at that particular gas station at the time of the incident. Now the 21 yr. old boyfriend, who’s apparently got admitted gang affiliations, has a warrant out for his arrest (may have had one before the incident too, it’s not clear), and is still missing – oh, gee, THAT’S why she had to find a different cop to help — they fled the scene! And the cop fired because he feared for his life, because they were trying to run down officers in order to drive through (or around) a police barricade and get away — and it turns out the cops had them blocked in on three sides: ““De’Angelas [boyfriend] was trying to get away, they blocked us from the side, front and back.” And she didn’t go find another cop for help either – they got stopped at another checkpoint. where the boyfriend was also arrested (or he may have run, leaving his injured pregnant girlfriend behind, and been caught later). Regardless, once caught he admitted he drove the car straight at the cop – and that’s technically assault with a deadly weapon. So he’s charged with second-degree assault on a law enforcement officer, and is being held in lieu of $50,000, cash-only bail.

My, my. Now that’s a completely different story when the basic “who, what, where, when, why” facts are included, isn’t it? And I’m sure even those facts will be modified some over time, but that’s the gist of it.

True journalism in the mainstream media is essentially dead, most of those in media have no shame or integrity, and you can’t trust much of anything that’s written without digging into it and piecing things together yourself. It’s a disgusting state of affairs that’s doing incalculable harm to this nation.

Rational Db8 on December 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Of the 3 cases, the media picked the wrong two to focus on. But they shot twice and missed and now people care a lot less about the New York case.

KMav on December 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Narrative journalism also requires that the media ignore stories that don’t fit their preconceived narratives, like Kermit Gosnell.

myiq2xu on December 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Any room in that narrative for the story of the murder of Bosnian Muslim Zemir Begic by hammer wielding thugs in St. Louis last weekend?

Probably not, huh?

Thought so.

Bruno Strozek on December 4, 2014 at 2:09 PM

I’m honestly surprised that the MSM didn’t jump all over covering that an innocent (for once) Muslim was senselessly murdered.

HikaruKitsune on December 4, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Just as Stalin had his promotional vehicle The New York Times the Nazi’s had their Volkischer Beobachter / Associated Press / Washington Post equivalents.

The Dimocrats have their Axis Katie Couric, Lord Haw Haw (Peter Pan’s my kid, I heart nepotism) Brian Williams, Andrea Mitchell Riefenstahl and Zimmerman Judge “Roland Freisler” Nelson.

Diane Sawyer dared ask Killary a tough question and was quickly shipped to Siberia.

viking01 on December 4, 2014 at 3:17 PM

The whole progressive journalist narrative currently is that it does not matter whether or not a victim is telling the truth, the truth is irrelevant, the only truth that does matter, is that the victim was victimised by a white male. It does not even have to be a white male, it can also be a Hispanic male, if he can speak English, the media will classify him as a white male.

Wallythedog on December 4, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Rational Db8 on December 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

What are you a counter-revolutionary saboteur?!

Akzed on December 4, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Sometimes the hoped-for narrative doesn’t materialize, like the Times Square wannabe bomber being a white guy.

Akzed on December 4, 2014 at 3:43 PM

Rational Db8 on December 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

What are you a counter-revolutionary saboteur?!

Akzed on December 4, 2014 at 3:42 PM

I’m workin’ on it! ;-)

Rational Db8 on December 4, 2014 at 3:47 PM

Obama’s propaganda machine…

albill on December 4, 2014 at 4:45 PM

The era of “narrative journalism” is upon us

Breaking news from 2008 2000 1992

1980

1976 1968 1940 1920 1900 1892 1872 whenever journalism existed/

There Goes the Neighborhood on December 4, 2014 at 4:54 PM

White Officer Just Indicted By SC Jury For Killing Unarmed Black Man…Media Silent…

Resist We Much on December 4, 2014 at 3:52 PM

Of course they’re silent. No faux, vapor racism to pimp.

Meople on December 4, 2014 at 5:05 PM

The era of “narrative journalism” is upon us

It’s December 4th, 2014 and your’re just finding this out?

And in other news Cronkite now says the war is ‘unwinnable’.

reddevil on December 4, 2014 at 5:21 PM

I would like to welcome you and Geraghty to 1998, when ‘narrative journalism’ went mainstream in the multi-media defense of Clinton.

Nice of you guys to notice.

Do you live on some libertarian enclave where they ban modern electronics like the Amish? Or do you just sample too much of the home-grown?

Adjoran on December 4, 2014 at 5:29 PM

True journalism in the mainstream media is essentially dead, most of those in media have no shame or integrity, and you can’t trust much of anything that’s written without digging into it and piecing things together yourself.

Rational Db8 on December 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

.
Uhhh . . . “welcome home ?”
.

It’s a disgusting state of affairs that’s doing incalculable harm to this nation.

Rational Db8 on December 4, 2014 at 3:00 PM

.
Yes it is … and it’s all by design.

listens2glenn on December 4, 2014 at 6:42 PM

Narrative journalism has been with us for decades.

The idea that journalists cover ‘stories’ implies a beginning, middle and end. Yet real life is not made up of ‘stories’ but is a continuing interaction with uncertainties, crossing of lives and random events that do not have a definite start nor an end: individuals participating in society have a pre-existing society, live and interact with it, then when they die they can still have a lasting impact on that society.

By trying to make everything into a ‘story’ what you actually get is a few parts of a middle, but the beginning and end are given short shrift because they do not fit the narrative format. I hate ‘story’ reporting as it attempts to create a narrative out of whole cloth out of very few actual facts, and that has been true of journalism for long, long decades. The moment a reporter tries to ‘make sense’ of what he or she has seen, you get a narrative and the reporting on the ACTUAL FACTS is then twisted by that storyline.

This isn’t a dawning era, but one that is about to implode due to the number of non-journalists now just giving information. I’ll take a tweet from someone who is looking out at what is going outside their window as more factual than any ‘reporter’ trying to give us a ‘story’ that they have a ready ‘narrative’ for. The average, random person on the street is much more reliable in giving facts than journalists are.

Just the facts is what I want.

You can shove the narrative where the sun don’t shine.

ajacksonian on December 4, 2014 at 6:53 PM

ajacksonian on December 4, 2014 at 6:53 PM

Excellent essay as always.
Narratives belong in novels, not news reports.

AesopFan on December 4, 2014 at 9:41 PM

ABC Nightline began as a daily feature connected with the Iran hostage crisis in 1979. Roone Arledge had two objectives for this feature. Compete with the Tonight Show, and showcase President Carter. The expectation was that, since nobody is stupid enough to spit in America’s face, when we beat down the Iranians and recovered our citizen’s, it would be a massive triumph for the then worst president of the modern era. Ted Koppel, previously ABCs senior Washington reporter, got the desk.

When Carter refused to do anything but talk, the network had to scramble to create a narrative that “suggested” that Carter was doing things behind the scenes to peacefully recover our people. Then, when the blackhawk down incident occurred, the spin shifted instantly to the lousy equipment and horrible training of the military (which Carter had quietly been gutting for two years).

Following that, the Nightline feature morphed into a daily news cycle spin machine for the Democrats (because there weren’t enough of those around). All throughout the 1980 election runup, they hammered Reagan for being a no-nothing hack actor with no ability to govern (in spite of running California with the first surplus the state had known in three decades, cleaning up horrible prison conditions, bringing businesses across the country to a state with low taxes and great working conditions, and fighting the unions left and right).

Once Reagan was in the White House, Nightline became an almost exclusive investigative journalism enclave dedicated to finding anything negative about the administration. The Iran-Contra deal was their dream come true, and Koppel was on there every night, telling americans in that smooth voice of his (and that Alfred E. Neuman face) how corrupt the Republicans were.

So, if “narrative journalism” hadn’t existed before then (of course it had), it certainly went full-bloom and no guessing whose teams they cheered for, after November of 1979.

Freelancer on December 5, 2014 at 12:27 AM

Journalism majors are encouraged to find overarching Truths then to go out and find a story that will demonstrate that great insight for the unwashed masses. If no appropriately illuminating story is out there, they can just massage the facts of something that did happen until they fit the meme. Yes, it’s lying, but it’s lying in the service of their greater Truth.
Unfortunately, most journalism majors are ill-educated, mediocre, indoctrinated drones who failed math and science but did well in the watered-down courses that pass for basic English in a public school system intentionally designed to obfuscate the lessons of history.
They couldn’t find an overweening Truth if it was presented to them in their Starbucks sack.

SRQ on December 5, 2014 at 10:30 AM