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The Journalism of Creative NonFiction: When Fiction and NonFiction Collide


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Title: The Journalism of Creative NonFiction: When Fiction and NonFiction Collide

The Journalism of Creative Non-Fiction When
Fiction and Non-Fiction Collide
Defining Journalism
  • Story telling with a purpose.
  • Barry Hollander, Associate Professor of
    Journalism and Mass Communication at Grady
    College in GA
  • The accurate, fair
  • contextual pursuit of truth.
  • - John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Defining Creative Non-Fiction
  • Dramatic, true stories using scenes, dialogue,
    close, detailed descriptions and other techniques
    usually employed by poets and fiction writers
  • about important subjects.
  • - Lee Gutkind, Founder of Creative Nonfiction

Defining Creative Non-Fiction
  • …relatively recently recognized genre that
    involves writing from personal experience and/or
    reporting on other peoples experiences.
  • - Duke University Writing Studio

James and Oprah
  • A Million Little Pieces

Truth and The Times
  • Former New York Times Reporter Jayson Blair
    Admitted to plagiarism and fabricated material

Power of the Memoir
  • Detroit Free-Press columnist Mitch Albom wrote
    the 2002 book Tuesdays with Morrie

What is a Quote?
  • Dialogue is always a composite.
  • Imagine Making a transcript of everything you
    said in a day.

Spring Break Flap
  • Well? I said. How was Ft. Lauderdale? It
    was fantastic, mom. Thats fantastic with a
    capital F.
  • The Cape May County Herald on
  • April 9, 1986

From Doubly Anxious, Doubly Excited
  • But shes your grandmother, I said. They have
    supernatural powers.
  • Kris paused for a second. Then she said, My
    grandmother didnt have twins.
  • - The Philadelphia Inquirer on July 6, 2005

The Burly Guy and Other Controversies
  • The strangers we have passed on recent excursions
    have been less subtle. Youre going to hurt
    yourself buddy, remarked one fairly burly man
  • Parents Express in
  • September 2004

What is Accuracy?
  • When we describe what the other person is really
    like. I suppose we often picture what we want.
    We look through the prism of our need.
  • -Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe

The Little Things
  • Ever read the front pages or watch the evening
    news shows and think, Theyre all obsessed with
    the same story? Lots of readers and viewers
    think that, and you can gather in many of them by
    ignoring the big story and, instead, heading for
    the small things in lifethe little irritations,
    little pleasures, the stuff thats actually
    nonessential but, nevertheless, on the minds of
    many people.
  • - Fink on page 166

Greater Truths
  • What captures a writers attention is not just
    what everybody else seesthe current crisis. In
    todays headlines, the writer recognizes larger
    trends, deeper truths about the way human beings
    behave. The particular events offer an epiphany,
    a way at getting at the deeper subject.
  • - Gerard on page 8

Your Experience
  • Each piece of experience builds into a bigger
    piece of experience. When you report where you
    are, what you see, taste, touch, feel and smell,
    you also release what is inside of you, the
    pattern of what you have learned.
  • - Bender on page 26

Sam the Vegetable Man
  • Sam was a real Philadelphia character with a
    nearly bald head that was dotted with a few hairs
    that looked like they were transplanted from his
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer on
  • January 19, 2006

The Personal Essay
  • The personal essay is a version of events
    delivered in the writers voice. The spirit of
    the moment is what is most important. We are not
    just reporting on what happened, but what it
    means to us.
  • - The Press of Atlantic City on February 9, 2006

The Two Weddings
  • We have all seen two friends battling over their
    memories of the same event such as wedding.
    Which version is the correct one?
  • The Press of Atlantic City on
  • February 9, 2006

Realitys Characters
  • Were always looking for an interesting

The Fine Line
  • To be successful, a personal essay writer needs
    a journalists sharp eye and a painters deft
    stroke. But we must admit that it is the
    writers telling of the event that touches us,
    not the event itself.
  • The Press of Atlantic City on February 9, 2006

Im an Impressionist
  • Your essays are like Norman Rockwell paintings.

Audience and Emotion
Choose an Essay
Discussion Questions
  • Whats newsworthy about the essay you read?
  • Are any of the articles tied to a specific news
    event or trend? If so, what is that news event
    or trend?
  • What do you remember about each personal essay
    and why? Be as specific as possible.

Discussion Questions
  • Do you see any universal themes in the essay?
    What are those connections/common themes?
  • Would you classify these essays as journalism or
    creative non-fiction? Why?

Discussion Questions
  • Is there anything about your life that you feel
    is newsworthy? It could be something from the
    past, present, or future.
  • How would you tell that story?
  • Why is it compelling?
  • Is there any universal theme or lesson that
    readers can learn from your life experience?

5-Minute Essay
  • Write a lead for a personal essay about a person.