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Friday, 16 March 2012

Tom Wolfe - The New Journalism

Later 1966 - when you first started hearing people talk about the New Journalism in conversation
Wasn't a movement - no manifestos'.
Mid sixties - 'Some sort of artistic excitement in journalism and that was a new thing in itself.'

What is new journalism?
From 60's and 7-'s -  astyle of journalism that was considered unconventional.

Mainly found in magazines instead of newspapers/.
It can deal with form and technique.
1972 article by Dennis Chaser identifies it as emphasizing truth over facts.

Mixing journalism with literary techniques.
(most likely inspired by Dickens and Zola)

Tom Wolfe seems to really enjoy the structure of novels, and seems inspired by novelists.

Writers weren't worrying about political bias or emotional connections to the story.
Existentialism - Eg: 'Fear and Loathing...'

Items around a person - tools for social autopsy.

'Best fiction is better than any kind of journalism'

Gonzo = The modern new journalism' - Theroux is a modern example - easier through human interest stories.


The Penny Papers in America- deeply partisan - merchants and politicians.

Mid-19th Century objectivity became a factor in journalism because of the creation of wire services.
The Associated Press (AP) -  needed objectivity to be profitable (also now Press Association)

The wries were like wholesale news - People trying to sell news to newspapers.

The (first) new journalism - The Yellow Press - late 19th Century.

The world of William Randolph Hearst of the New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World.
Cartoon - 'The Yellow Boy' - people loved it.

Sensationalism - huge, emotive headlines with big striking pictures.
Eg- Sun on Sunday - Exclusives, dramamtic stories, romantic stories, shocking stories and crime stories.

America of the 1960's and 70's was similar to the time of Heart and the Yellow Press. Their was a lot of political and social upheaval - fighting foriegn news, with even more serious military threats building overseas.

Journalists recorded the events of the day - normally in a formulaic way.

Five Ws - news pyramid etc... but the new journalism was an attempt to record events mirroring the language and the style of the events. Letting it bleed into the copy.

1960's was particularly turbulent - great hope of JFK, destroyed with assasination in 1963. Disastsrous war in vietnam - controversy of the day Muhammed Ali refused to be conscripted - 'I ain't got no quarrel with them viet cong'.

Sexual revolution - sexual freedom, the pill, Reichian free lane. The student movement - worldwide protests of 1968 - Civil Rights - Black power - Use of LSD.

Anti- establishment feeling - 'There is a policeman inside your head - he must be destroyed' - began to seep into journalism.

- Journalists began to focus on setting, plot, sounds, feelings, direct quotes and images while still being as careful as before with facts Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe, and Maller are examples of this new breed.

* New journalism changed the focus of the stories.
* Seeing instead of telling
* It was about telling the story, but it moved to seeing.
* Shift in form of narration from Diegetic to Mimetic.
* New Journalism = Showing you instead of telling you

Objectivity was moved in favour of subjective experience.
'Gonzo Journalism'

Ultimate new journalism piece is 'Fear and Loathing'
'Performance Journalism' - (Eg Supersize Me, Michael Moore, Louis Theroux)

Tom Wolfe
He was a huge fan of Emile Zola.

Natural Realism
Was fascinated with the idea of status.
Saw us as nothing but parts of a greater societal structure.

'I was by no means the first person to get excited by webers status'
Wolfe enters into journalism first thing he notices is the status competition.

The competition varies through - the reporters are in the 'scoop competition' - Sky-  'First for Breaking News'. BBC - 'Updated every minute of every day'.

Ambulance chasers - stories about power and catastrophe.

The other is the 'feature game' - 'A stroy that fell outside the category of hard news'.
The game was to hold your own in the competition.

Reporter needs to be there to see it, to collect the data first hand. Once there it is only a small step.

Problem of narrator -  sounding like a pale biege.
Make the narrator more interesting by making the situation influence the narrators style.

New Journalism - Page 46 + 47

Can be considered two of the most importnant pages about features that you can read.

It lists the 4 key aspects to writing features.

1 - Scene by Scene Construction
Telling the story in scenes and not in a sheer 'historical narrative'. Journalists needed to be cut at the event to witness it.

2- Realistic Dialogue
Involves the reader more completely than any other single device - it also defines character more quickly and effectively than any other single device

3 - Third Person Point of View
'Giving the reader the feeling of being inside the characters mind'. Need to interview them about their thoughts and emotioncs along with everything else.

4 - Everyday Gestures
Gestures, habits, manners, customs, styles of furniture, modes of behaviour towards children, superiors, inferiors and other symbolic details that might exist within a scene. Symbolic of peoples states in life.


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