Thursday, February 23, 2012

A tale of two storytellings

Richard Peppiatt is the journalist who quit the Daily Star in protest at its approach to Islam (unsurprisingly, not in favour ... as a "journalist" shouldn't Peppiatt have had some clue as to the attitudes of his employer?) The first thing I read this morning was his contribution to The Phone Hacking Scandal: Journalism on Trial (Abramis, 2012).

Peppiatt actually says nothing more than what critics of tabloid journalism, including academics, have been saying for some time. Although he cites Jacques Derrida, his essay is hardly the "remarkable, theoretically adventurous" piece that the book's joint editor Richard Keeble claims.

In essence, Peppiatt asserts that journalists have turned into storytellers; this is an interesting claim but unconvincing because it needs to be analysed more carefully. Journalists have always been storytellers – his real claim is that they have now become fabulists.

The second thing I read this morning was the Guardian's obituary of Marie Colvin. Now there was a great journalist storyteller. As Roy Greenslade says: "She wrote about people so that others might understand the truth."
She was not interested in the politics, strategy or weaponry; only the effects on the people she regarded as innocents. "These are people who have no voice," she said. "I feel I have a moral responsibility towards them, that it would be cowardly to ignore them. If journalists have a chance to save their lives, they should do so."

Also worth reading: David Remnick's New Yorker obituary


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