Defining Narrative Journalism Through the Concept of Plot

Marie Vanoost

Abstract


Narrative journalism, as has been frequently stressed, offers stories closer to fictional narratives than to conventional press stories, at least in their writing techniques and in the kind of truth they intend to convey. But what has been less extensively examined are the implications of this hybridization for the characteristics of such narratives. This article will highlight how these narratives differ from Lits’s notion of récit médiatique and from the “narratives” Revaz, Pahud and Baroni identify in the daily press. Then, using the distinction between the two functions of narratives that Baroni introduced – which he calls fonction intrigante and fonction configurante –, the article will propose a new way of conceiving how narrative journalism is both fundamentally inscribed in the realm of journalism and closely connected to fiction, through the concept of plot. Finally, the article will suggest distinguishing between different approaches – connected with different ethical stances – within narrative journalism, depending on the kind of plot the narrative offers.