The second objective is to decipher elements of facts within literature. This could be done through any news article in a local newspaper and should not require much class time. Have the students chose an article from the front page, read the article, and write down in a systematic way -- who, what, where, when, why, and how -- or "5W's and a H". More fruitful results occur through close reading several sentences with particular attention to adjectives and adverbs. Here students will begin to gain a clear understanding of how an author's personality enters into a factual account, thereby adding bias. A fun and illuminating exercise is to have the students rewrite the dissected sentences and, by playing with connotation, convey an entirely different mood, tone, and style to the piece. This could be done with any article. On the sports page of the Saturday, May 27, 2006 edition of the
New York Times
is an article written by Karen Crouse entitled, Jeter Beats Out a Milestone, where Karen Crouse opens, "The night was damp, the Yankees opponent was doleful, the holiday getaway traffic was dispiriting. The reason why 48,035 fans braved a gloomy sky, gridlock, and the Kansas City Royals last night became as clear as an indelible memory in the bottom of the forth inning." Some word choices which are subjective include, "damp", "doleful", "getaway", "dispiriting", "braved", "gloomy", "clear as an indelible memory". Encourage students to create substitutes for these words through a method of your design. "Damp" can become, "Fresh dew", "doleful" can become "serene", "getaway" can become "energetic", "dispiriting" can become "suspenseful", "braved" can become "courageously challenged", "gloomy" can become "intrepid", and "clear as an indelible memory" can become "unforgettable". The rewritten paragraph would then read, "The night was covered with fresh dew, the Yankees opponent was serene, the holiday energetic traffic was suspenseful. The reason why 48,035 fans courageously challenged an intrepid sky, gridlock, and the Kansas City Royals last night became unforgettable in the bottom of the forth inning." As students begin to see the power in these subtle differences they ultimately begin to compare style. It is a writer's style and voice, which differentiates the massive variety of texts on the same subject. Style and voice like faces and personalities are unique to every individual. As a journalism topic have students express why the adage, "all stories have already been told, it is the way they are told which is different.", is true. After having the students share their responses, make sure to make apparent and lasting that in opposition to facts, style, voice, theme, and purpose are completely subjective. Therefore, journalism and history should not be read as exclusively fact, given an author's assumptions and preconceptions.
Exposition on New Journalism -- an Author's Awareness
The presentation of the above objectives is universal and can be used as a mini-lesson or a bridge into a non-fiction unit, a research paper, a journalism class, or other literary outlet. However, such a lesson is absolutely necessary to a unit on "New Journalism" for it provides the literal implications and impact of the journalist-novel. Norman Mailer's, Armies of the Night provides a salient example of the explosion of thought, style, theme, and point of view emanating from a single news article capped at less than 1,000 words. He begins his novel with an empathetic nod to New Journalism: "From the outset, let us bring you news of your protagonist." The word "protagonist" derives from literary theory and most commonly refers to a character's successful struggle over a conflict, often referred to as the antagonist. The terms protagonist and antagonist suggest fictional literature. Following this implicitly fictional statement, Mailer writes, "The following is from
magazine, October 27, 1967". Each word in this sentence is free from bias and factual. One, the article was in
magazine, two, the date was October 27, 1967, and three, the exact text immediately follows as this statement suggests. Therefore, a statement purely factual follows a sentence drowning in fictional implications. The Time article, which appears in its entirety, is strongly subjective, negatively reporting Norman Mailer and his contribution to the March on Washington in 1967. Within the first two pages, Mailer addresses four literary genres -- fiction, fact, journalism, and New Journalism.
As if defining the very essence of "New Journalism" the quoted Times news article is pursued by the following statement, "Now we may leave
in order to find out what happened." Mailer's pointed disappointment with the Times article is obvious as he dismisses this article as fact, "in order to find out what happened." And as Mailer retells his version he wins the Pulitzer for Non-fiction and a National Book Award, awarded to narrative novels, predominately fiction. Although Mailer's research far surpasses the
journalist, is there enough research to justify 288 pages and call this text historical or hard journalism? Yet, after reading the book and reviewing the implications of such an introduction one is forced to question, as Mailer would want, which is a more accurate portrayal of history, Mailer's novel (where he himself is included), or the