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May 3, 2015

All journalism is a kind of fiction.

The writer gets to choose what to put in and what to leave out,
shaping the story in different ways than another writer would, even after witnessing the same events. The transaction between the writer and reader consists of an implicit trust that the writer will deliver a reasonable facsimile of people and events as they appeared when the reporter saw them. Mitchell, it turns out, did not always think of nonfiction that way, particularly when it came to his character’s actual existence. 'I wish this guy hadn't written this book' - Columbia Journalism Review

Posted by gerardvanderleun at May 3, 2015 7:30 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

They are all liars.

In one of his beautiful volumes of memoirs, H.L. Mencken describes an incident that took place on a wintry November morning, if I remember correctly, when he was a cub reporter on the Sun, and assigned to cover the waterfront.

It was an awful, bitter day. So he decided to sit it out in a tavern. Where he was soon joined by 4 or 5 other cub reporters, similarly assigned to cover the waterfront by the papers that employed them. Yes, there were 5 dailies in Baltimore in the closing decades of the 19th century.

Rather than go out into the cold and come up with a real news story, the cubs decided to make up a story amongst themselves, and soon settled on all of the details.

Mencken dutifully turned in his copy.

The next day, he was the recipient of unexpected praise. Good job, Mencken, his editor told him. I just checked your report with the stories in the other papers. Looks like this time, you got it right!

Posted by: Punditarian [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 4, 2015 1:12 PM

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