We need lots of new bells and whistles, databases and widgets. We also need to employ the tools we have more effectively.
Nothing in the arsenal is even nearly as potent as narrative text.
We should write better. Stories should have a beginning, a middle and an end. There should be emotional connections for readers, conclusions, a pay-off for the time readers invest.
Hey, I recognize that not every story (or even most of them) lends itself to narrative treatment. I’m all about alternate story forms, visual journalism, web 2.0 techniques, co-creation and all the rest.
But I am also hungry for storytelling, for writers who can work their magic on a preliminary hearing in a murder trial, or a heated exchange at the city council, or a lonely immigrant worker who misses home. Edna Buchanan, Jimmy Breslin, Francis X. Clines.
No six-year old will ever tug at your sleeve and ask, “Mommy, tell me an article.”
But stories? Oh yes, please.
We need more.
(I will start a new folder called "Better writing" on McClatchyNext where you can share winning examples from your paper or website. Please do.)
P.S. Yes, I also see the notice about upgrading the site at McClatchyNext. I have inquired with PBwiki about doing so; I am honestly not just stiffing them on the bill.