Facts or fiction?

Journalists should report the truth. Who would deny it? But such a statement does not get us far enough, for it fails to distinguish nonfiction from other forms of expression. Novelists can reveal great truths about the human condition, and so can poets, film makers and painters. Artists, after all, build things that imitate the world. So do nonfiction writers.

The Line Between Fact and Fiction,Roy Peter Clark, Senior Scholar, Poynter Institute.
As journalists, we need to stick to facts. Our main goal is to inform. But should we stop there? If we do venture into “revealing great truths about the human condition” like novelists, poets, filmmakers and painters do, then are we sacrificing our “objectivity?” Our intent is to inform. Any emotional reaction to our breaking news is perhaps a plus. Unlike poetry, again, news is a straight-forward account of, say, a tragedy or a crime. But there is really no rule stopping us from borrowing proven techniques in creative writing whose goal is to evoke emotions, such as anger, joy, frustration, and of course, love and longing.
Clark wrote:
For centuries writers of nonfiction have borrowed the tools of novelists to reveal truths that could be exposed and rendered in no better way. They place characters in scenes and settings, have them speak to each other in dialogue, reveal limited points of view, and move through time over conflicts and toward resolutions.

But Clark also gave this useful advice:

[D]on’t add and don’t deceive. If you try something unconventional, let the public in on it. Gain on the truth. Be creative. Do your duty. Have some fun. Be humble. Spend your life thinking and talking about how to do all these well.

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Erwin Oliva

Putting a dent on the universe one day at a time