Sunday, November 30, 2008

thoughts on journalism with wings and a prayer

Dear Wings et al: This excellent UK non-fictional "Cops and Robbers" or UK Keystone Kops story has the makings of an excellent made-for-tv movie in its fine and dramatic presentation of serial events.
This story exudes much drama, suspense, action, character, setting, etc., typical of any great fictional novel, except it is nonfiction.
The reporter/journalist is a very talented writer who has an excellent skill at understanding the average readers' approach to constructing real life situations in the mind's eye. The mind does not know the difference between what is real and what is not. The reporter took advantage, in some ways of this fact.
There seems to be a melding of these two worlds, the fictional world and the non-fictional world in this story about George Phillips.
The George Phillips story gives the reader more of a cathartic reaction than a usual non-fiction story because it is a real story about real people, but the action is atypical.
This story could be described or arranged in a million and one ways. Yet the writer focused on telling the story in a traditonal storytelling way. By letting the story tell itself as it unfolds, rather than reporting the "key evidence" first, the story becomes much more interesting to the reader. It also becomes far more than typical antidotal writing, it takes on a life of its own.
When the reader has to dig for tidbits of information to make a logical story progress, there is more appeal. It is similar to following a mystery story, with twists and turns and intrigue.
Not often found in real life happenings, mystery writing may have had an influence in the George Phillips storyline.
We all know the truth can be manipulated to a certain extent. Reporters and politician know this to be true. Take "spin doctors" for example, those professional PR (Public Relations)people of the press that turn a "bad" event into a "good" event. This tactic is for the sole purpose of keeping the honour of said corrupt politicans intact. The truth is out there, but who's side of the story? There are two sides to a story, at least!
In the George Phillips example; the reporter did not report the shocking byline first; which would read; "Local Man Falsely Reports Shed Shooting Creates Mayhem in Wigan". I am sure you can come up with a better byline and storyboard!
The writer cum reporter chose not to describe the "shocking" shooting incident first because the reporter was creating a "perfect story" within the subtext of a non-fiction report.
This reporter's keen writing skills are evident by the slow, methodical build-up to the climax; the report of the shooting incident, and then the final denouement, the lack of any gun evidence.
After the reader "ooohs and ahhhs" over the shock of this "Walter Mitty" type story, George Phillips, taking the law into his own hands, commits the atypical act. The reader is now "reader-on-stun" (Trent on Stoke)and basically a "deer in the headlights" waiting for the next tripwire to finally derail all logical reasoning and assumptions to wit.
Readers assume a storyline will progress in a logical progression, and when it does not, this gives evidence to the makings of a great story, fiction or non-fiction alike.
In the George Phillips rendering, what should have progressed in a logical and typical way, did not. George Phillips being the typical nonconformist type who is no doubt middleclass, middleaged conservative sterotype; the quintessential status quo citizen.
The element of surprise by George's action created the juggernaut double ganger found in many fine mystery fictional "Cops and Robbers" accounts (please refer to True Detective novels).
George's apparent lawlessness or what we refer to in the west as outlawism or vigilantism confounded the reader; "how could sweet George Phillips stoop to those 'bad boy' tactics"? It was so atypical of George's stature, to act in this way. Again, the element of surprise, and using the readers sterotypical construct of character was masterfully employed by this writer. George Phillips antihero action become heroic due to his ability to take on the radical anticonformist stance. We need a hero who is a common man who takes uncommon action. What is the saying here? The guarantee of a society failing is to have good men do nothing.
George Phillips as a modern day hero, action which is dressed in subculture countercultural tactics, excluding the current punk rock philosophy of "chaos promotes change" baggage, George Phillips wears his mohawk on the inside. Who's side is George Phillips displaying by his actions?
Similarily, just what the reader was not expecting, he or she received; and "how shocking"!. The shock of the new, the element of surprise creates readers' interest and is a literary device. How did this reporter understand this? After reading literature and being literally literate the reporter displayed his/her obvious skills. Of course a liberal dose of shock effect sprinkled over this story, the writer proved his/her fine ability of telling a good story, whether fiction or nonfiction.
The reporter's choice of letting the story naturally unravel made for a great read, not a usual event for nonfiction journalist writing. With the advent of television, and the fast pace requirement of shock jock writing (gonzo journalism)to sell papers, etc, journalism must also peak the interest of the reader quickly. I love the way this story unfurled.
Do writers create these real(nonfiction)reporting events from fiction (make believe) myths or visa versa? The idea that nonfiction is the chicken and fiction is the egg. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The perfect antidotal story unravels little bits at a time, like life and our minds think one way. All of a sudden, "whamo" the story radically changes and concludes with the surprise denouement. If only all reports were this exciting and humorous, there would be a lot more readers of newspapers. I suppose that is why the Sun is so popular, tacky, but popular. Unless the dry read is for you, these juicy reports are far from nonstop yawn of formula reporting. jk jones --- In, "wings081" wrote:nov 30 08 repost chiccoreal

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