It is not a new insight that journalistic writings contain narratives. Its long and prominent tradition includes writers as diverse as Émile Zola, Egon Erwin Kisch, Gabriel García Márquez, and Tom Wolfe, among others. In recent years, however, narratological approaches have enhanced our understanding of the specific qualities of journalistic narratives. The articles in this issue of DIEGESIS, devoted to narration in journalism, corroborate this claim.
Ethical aspects of journalism, Friederike Hermann argues, are closely connected to the narrative techniques applied. She criticizes the seemingly objective and narratorless narrative style widely used in print journalism. Its ideal of a pure presentation of facts, according to her, is misleading. Instead, journalists should make their point of view apparent by using pertinent stylistic and narrative means. Interactive online journalism seems to proamote such transmission of information on a level playing field with the reader.
Marie Vanoost holds that narrative journalism is a hybrid genre located on the borderline between fiction and conventional journalism. She analyzes its usage of complex and specific forms of emplotment in three case studies, using Raphäel Baroni’s and Paul Ricoeur’s concepts of intriguing function (fonction intriguante), which foregrounds the dynamics of reading, and configuring function (fonction configurante), which favours informative and explicative qualities.
Forms of emplotment also figure prominently in Valérie Robert’s contribution on journalists’ treatment of the “Wulff-Affäre” which, in the end, provoked the resignation of Germany’s President Christian Wulff in 2012. Robert indicates that journalistic texts do not circulate in isolation but are embedded as elements of serialized narratives which include culture-specific features. The serialized narrative on Wulff includes several narratives (sin and punishment, democracy, freedom of the press, legitimacy) that enhance the events with symbolic meaning.
Some of the articles in this issue study medial aspects of journalistic narratives. Nora Berning, for example, analyzes Mark Bowden’s hypertext Blackhawk Down. It is presented as an example of hybrid, postmodern journalism at the crossroads between fact and fiction. Its usage of narrative situations, narrative time, character-spaces and narrative bodies produce, in the reader, the aesthetic experience of a shared ethical and political reality.
Dealing with the function of photographs in print journalism, Karl N. Renner introduces several valuable distinctions, including ‘documenting’ vs. ‘illustrating’ photographs and ‘metonymic’ vs. ‘metaphoric’ relations between photographs and texts. Photographs used in the metonymic mode, he argues, lead to additive ‘reporting’, whereas photographs used in the metaphoric mode contribute to a totalizing journalistic ‘narrating’.
In this issue, DIEGESIS introduces a new column, ‘Interview’. From now on, we will ask important narratologists for their personal experiences, opinions, and predilections. Brian Richardson is the first to give his answers.
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