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September 19, 2005

Elements of Journalism (Ch. 3 - 5)

Elements of Journalism (Ch. 3 - 5)

The Elements of Journalism (Ch. 3 - 5) by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel

“A key part of the problem...is the growing journalistic focus on the motives of public officials rather than their actions. By shifting from the "what" of public life to the "why," they argued, journalists "interiorized" public life, making it about the psyche and self of politicians and also making it less about the outcomes of public policy that actually affected citizens. This cynical focus, however, tended to further disconnect journalists from citizens.” (pg. 57, ch. 3)

I can remember hearing my parents complain about this as well (especially during the months before the presidential elections). We hear so much about the promises of politicians and very little about the actions they actually take. It’s always more focused on their personal lives and who the politician is as a person.

“The nonfiction writer is communicating with the reader about real people in real places. So if those people talk, you say what those people said. You don’t say what the writer decides they said…You don’t make up dialogue. You don’t make a composite character…And you don’t get inside their [characters’] heads and think for them.” (pg. 78, ch. 4)

Whenever I get quotes from people I’m always wishing they had said things in a different way. I wish I could tell them what to say. I want more control, as if I were writing a story.

Posted by Kayla Sawyer at September 19, 2005 12:09 PM


I totally understand what you mean Kayla. I wish I could manipulate what people say to fit my stories too. That would really make things easier. But, I guess part of being a good journalist/reporter is to exhaust all your resources and then use what you have to write a good story. It is a skill that I guess we will just have to practice a lot before we can be good at it. But, try not to worry about it too much, I think you are a lot better off then me, and I guess recognizing our weaknesses will make it easier to become better journalists. (Or at least I hope so.)

Posted by: Lorin Schumacher at September 26, 2005 07:43 PM

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