Lettre Ulysses Award | The Art of Reportage
International. Association for Literary Journalism Studies (IALJS) founders of the modern Norwegian tradition of literary reportage, a term I use in deference. The genre of literary reportage is situated between journalism and literature. It has in common with journalism its relation to actuality. Reportage refers to cultural. The relation between fictional literature and journalism seems to have been partly It is easier to contrast novel and reportage than reportage and fiction. Not all.
But as I shall also suggest, there is a zone in-between, where similarities may seem more important than differences. It is easier to contrast novel and reportage than reportage and fiction.
Literary Reportage - NYU Journalism
Not all fiction is literature, and not all literature is necessarily fiction. Writer and reporter Sven Lindqvist says that even in the most authentic documentary there is at least one fictious person: I shall try to highlight the relationship emphasising both contrast and relative likeness, and — hopefully — by shuttling between the opposites proposed by the committee — end up in the twilight zone — although I realise by then it will be dark outside… 1.
What motivates the novelist? When I think of the novel and the reportage, in both cases I imagine a creative person whose encounters with reality are filtered through an individual state of mind, a temperi.
These encounters are then structured in a variety of narrative ways. The reportage has some constraints not associated with literature: The reportage has to be anchored in reality, in time and place. Among journalists we find many aspiring authors, some with completed manuscripts of novels in their drawers. On the other hand: One famous novelist put it this way, though: Of course he does not see his novels as journalism. But he has worked for newspapers and magazines, and what he said shows a respect for journalism, which is not so often expressed among writers.
On the other hand, Ernest Hemingway, also a jack of more than two trades, suggests that journalism "can be a daily self destruction for a serious creative writer. But can this daily destruction overshadow other sides of journalism, which may actually inspire writing, parallel to unlearning the destructive elements?
Some scholars suggest this The rivalry I: The rivalry between the novel and journalism — or reportage, to be more specific — was highlighted when Tom Wolfe, one of the leading men of New Journalism, declared the near-death of the novel in the U.
In a more moderate statement, he claimed the crisis of the novel had created an open space for a new genre of reporting. This genre was to be called New Journalism, developed by Wolfe and a group of contemporaries in the s. It should be added that he, since then, has published two novels. As one critic put it: A death to journalism, perhaps, if the bastard genes were spread?
The debate at this junction in the s was not new. As he saw it, this literary form came into being partly in opposition to the psychological novel.
- Literary Reportage
- The Art of Reportage
Journalism produces stories that others should be able to verify. But this is precisely what the reportage aims at — consciously or unconsciously — when it poses as artistic method. It wants to defeat the arbitrariness of subjectivity. He is not hostile to reportage as such. On the contrary, he praises it as an absolutely justifiable form of journalism, which, at its best "creates a proper relation between the general and the specific, the necessary and the arbitrary", revealing not just facts, but also causes, connections and reasoning.
They simply present live examples of individual fates, while in artistic work, the individual fate must appear as typical, for example of a social class. To use reportage in connection with the production of fiction entails decay from a realist to a naturalist way of representation. The accurate details often required of reportage — and the individuals reported upon — will, he claims, place the typical and the totality in the background.
However, a comparison between literature based in realism, and reportage, seems to be the most interesting for this endeavour. Strong expectations, small difference: Jo Bech-Karlsen writes that the reportage has never taken the full step into modernism, it is more or less fixed in the documentary program of realism. He suggests this is the reason why fiction writers in modernity have problems with the genre.
But he adds that the ambitions of the reportage should not be less than the ones of fictional writers: It, too, wants to describe the transient and inexplicable, preferably the way in which this occurs in daily life.
But is it a utopia worth struggling for, or are both genres — the novel and the reportage — better served by distinction? Media ruining the novel?
Difference Between Reportage and Literature
Czeck-born novelist Milan Kundera, in one of his essays about the art of the novel, claims that the whole culture, and also the novel, seems to find itself more and more at the mercy of the media, a development he obviously dislikes: It is not significant that different political interests express themselves in different organs.
Behind these superficial differences there is a shared spirit. This spirit appears to me to be in conflict with the spirit of the novel. Every novel tells the reader that things are more complicated than you believe. For Kundera journalism represented by the mass media is the trade of simplification, while the novel is complicated.
He suggests that the novel as genre possesses a wisdom superior to the creative person. The novelists who are more intelligent than their works, should shift to another profession, he recommends. He does not recommend any one profession in particular, but may we here suspect that he is thinking of journalism? Inspired by Kundera we may view the relationship between the novel and the reportage as vulnerable and unstable.
Journalism and media researchers preoccupy themselves with literature as inspiration for journalism, while the literature scholars seem much less interested. At times, journalism researchers may also argue for a less hierarchical relationship by pointing to what journalism can do and the novel — or fiction — can not, for example giving the reader a feeling that what she reads is a precise account of what really happened.
That is, journalism is able to create a closer experience of authenticity. Both for writers — and for the reader. Journalism is not dreaming, fiction is. Personally I feel this privilege has led me and other writers to the creation of lives one will not be able to live, other than in creative day-dreaming. It is written by the author Orwell, not the journalist. But the impressions and marks we get from reality are filtered differently in writing fiction — creating imaginary situations that might — or might not — have occurred in real life.
Readers, in their various realities, still understand this novel as fiercely anti-hegemonic. The novel may be full of daydreaming and fantasy, and for a journalist-turned writer, these abilities need to be cultivated parallel with a process of unlearning some aspects of journalism: It must be added that these are not the most cherished aspects of journalism, although simplification is a necessity in news production. A truth that moves beyond the moment. The stories of Joseph K.
The Pashtun version was after translation smuggled into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. This risky and subversive act illustrates a will to think of the novel as a pedagogical and liberating instrument in times of crisis. But may the same universal impact at times be found in works closer to journalism? InRodolfo Walsh, a young Argentinian writer, ignited by the lack of media coverage of an execution of a group of pro-Peron civilians, decided to write a novel to expose the crime.
His novel based on the event: Operacion Masacre was published in December He was not conscious of writing in a new literary genre as he wrote his book: I researched and narrated the tremendous facts, to give them the widest possible publicity, to make them inspire fear, to never let them happen again.
His work has had a growing influence on contemporary journalism in Latin America since it exemplifies a key challenge faced by independent journalists: The crime to which his story refers, never made it to the newspapers.
Another novel was published in ; "Quien mato a Rosendo", about the murder of a union leader at the hands of corrupt labour union bosses.
Walsh was assassinated inunder the military regime, the day after he had written an "Open letter to the Argentinian Junta", characterised by Garcia Marquez as a "masterpiece of universal journalism".
Here, Marquez suggests that also journalism at its best may contain texts that travel beyond their own time and influence people in other historical situations. In this novel, based on real events, he denounces the Columbian navy for the deaths of a group of sailors who were washed overboard with ill-secured contraband from a navy destroyer Benavides In these cases, in a sense, journalism inspired novels.
May the novel, then, serve as an inspiration for journalism, for non-fiction? The question worth asking is not whether reportage is literature, but why intellectuals have generally been so keen to deny it that status Carey In his preface, Carey, eager to show the advantages of reportage, quotes only two examples of good writing and they are both from novels. Although there are six pieces of reportage from Waterloo in the anthology, none of these are mentioned in the preface.
May this illustrate an inferiority complex of sorts? The extracts from the novels may be meant as an inspiration to future reporters. Carey writes that while working on the anthology he had to go through hundreds of pages of battle accounts that excluded all mentioning of killing. Such euphemisms illustrate one major function of language, which is to keep reality at bay.
A distinguishing feature of good reportage is that it combats this inevitable and planned retreat of language from the real. The piece of fiction by Stendhal takes part in that combat by gradually showing what war is about. The three books by Marquez and Rodolfo Walsh seem to belong to an in-between space, a space bordering both on novel and reportage, between fiction and journalism.
I have mentioned these as an introduction to what journalism researcher Douglas Underwood calls the Twilight sphere, in an attempt to answer the complicated questions: Where does one — by reportership — reproduce lived experience?
And where does one — by authorship — let lived experience inspire imagination? While the bulk of journalism caters to the day, to the week or to the everyday, novelists may indulge in daydreaming and worlds of fantasy. Daydreaming, however, must be disturbed to a degree by the intrusion into the literary field of the non-fiction novel. Truman Capote had published fictional novels earlier. The non-fiction novel is a form related to journalism by its adherence to real events as basis for writing, and to the novel for its aspirations of literary quality.
In Cold Blood may be read as a result of frustration with the novel as genre. I would rather see the non-fiction novel as a critical reaction to tendencies in fictional literature. Let us shortly recapitulate what In Cold Blood is about. The two assassins were falsely convinced that the farmer had thousands of dollars in a safe at home.
Capote, for five years after the murders, spent considerable time reconstructing the story, mapping the lives of the assassins, the family, the police, and other persons involved. The novel was published after the two men were hanged, in Behind the novel there is a large amount of research, which shares many of the qualities of in-depth journalism. This method is barely visible in the novel, except in a few passages where Capote writes in third person of a journalist — who is certainly T.
C — being present at many important occasions after the murders took place. But may we say that In Cold Blood is journalism — or reportage? Far from all non-fiction is journalism. Problems may arise since one, in explicit non-fiction, writes about real persons.
The people did not look much like the people he described. Later it turned out that they did not do or say all the things he attributed to them; and some things neither he nor anyone else could have known.
Literary Reportage: The ‘Other’ Literary Journalism | Genre | Duke University Press
Still, it was wonderful reporting and charged writing Garrett The above passage may be interpreted like this: If you are a good writer, your sins will be more easily forgiven: Maybe it should have been the other way around.
I think subjectivity is a key word here. In the writing of literary fiction, subjectivity is recognised as a virtue, in journalism it is at best controversial. While realising that there is always a degree of subjectivity, journalists learn to restrain themselves from obvious subjective choices and ways of writing, to preserve their own reliability and that of journalism.
There may be exceptions with regard to genre, though. It may also render the reader more able to evaluate what is written by agreeing or disagreeing with the reporter.
Contrasting the police novel: We find no inner monologue to speak of in In Cold Blood, although that is a feature, which is found in New Journalism. The book has a narrative closely linked to that of a mystery novel, slowly revealing more and more truths and background about the murders. But in the narrated reality, the two assassins did not have a classical motive for murdering four people. What models do you have in mind?
Projects can be local, national, or international in scope. But since much of your reporting will be done while in residence at NYU, your project should have some kind of a NYC dimension. Some students divide their time between their final international or national project and its local iterations.
You can write about domesticating foxes in Siberia, but should connect it to pet fox sales in New York City. A lot of travel and reporting can be accomplished during summers and other breaks. Be aware that access is important. That goes for form, as well: Some Literary Reportage students want to write books and articles, while others want to produce audio podcasts and even video documentaries. You will learn how to work in all of these forms.
And there have never been so many opportunities to publish, and get jobs, in the podcast world. We have integrated audio storytelling into the program, and every Literary Reportage student takes two week-long audio crash courses—one immediately before the start of the fall semester, and another immediately before the start of the spring semester. We also offer semester-long audio courses and free weekend skills courses throughout the year. How does Literary Reportage work?
The courses are divided between journalism seminars and writing workshops. The first semester leans toward the former, while the remaining semesters leans toward the latter. For an overview of the curriculum click here. Literary Reportage became a full-fledged concentration ingrowing out of the Portfolio honors trackin which students learned how to build a coherent body of work over the course of two semesters.