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Monday, 30 January 2023

“Facts are important”. Five practical tips of narrative journalism

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In these dark days, in which nobody does (knows how to do) his job because everyone seems capable of doing everything and explaining to others how to do it, I understand that what I am about to write can be misunderstood. The fact is that there are things that if you don’t know how to do them you can see them and others that if you don’t know how to do them or – worse – you hurt them, no one notices. On the contrary: they teach and become the norm. To say, if your car breaks down and you take it to the mechanic for repair, he makes you wait two days, he asks you for two hundred euros and when you go to pick it up, the car won’t start, you realize it. You realize that this is a job done with the feet, and you don’t go to that mechanic anymore (if you spit him first it’s better). If, on the other hand, to give another example, you read a story told with your feet, perhaps in a prestigious newspaper, it also happens that you do not notice it; not all are experts in everything: what we can do, reasonably and without going crazy, is to trust the newspaper that publishes the story in question. Is it convenient? I would say that, all in all, yes, it still pays off.
The problem, however, is the bad investigations. Here the example of bad money that drives out good money is not the right one: we can instead think of badly done investigations as poison thrown into a public well, from which an entire village drinks. Far from mithridatization, people will soon start to feel crap. He says, eh but you don’t die. No, but you will admit that life is crap.

1) Become a spy
Many journalists (especially the pataccari) are extremely vain and, although they are always complaining that they do not have even a moment of time, they cannot resist a good profile on a social network. Well, if you discover that the author of the survey who did not convince you shares those nice links (CLICK HERE AND DISCOVER WHY), I would not trust his inquiries so much. You won’t believe me, but once, I caught someone posting something like that.

2) Pay attention to the navel
Narrative journalism must narrate, but it is not necessarily that it has to narrate the private facts of the writer, or those that scandalize him. If you pay thirty euros for a cappuccino it’s a scandal, and it’s a story worth telling. If you go to a historic place, with waiters who have noble titles and three degrees, and they serve you the cappuccino in the finest porcelain while a string trio cheers you up at breakfast, the only thing you can tell is that you went well as well.

3) Facts are important
Of course a journalist has to tell a story (if not, for example, it would be enough to read the thirty thousand pages in legalese of any trial), but the facts are important. If you realize that, round and round, the narrative does nothing but reiterate the same things that you already know well or badly, if it does not provide you with some proven information that you did not know existed, I would advise you to abandon it.

4) Notice if anyone gets angry
It is like satire: if everyone is happy, something is wrong. It’s an easy rule but it always works.

5) Beware of the pillories
I will not say media pillories because I am ashamed (and I will also refrain from the term autos da fè), but it is certain that when someone is thrown into the square for others to spit, there is always someone who wanted something like this. A self-respecting narrative journalism does not do these things. Color is one thing, it is another thing to know how to transform the squalor of our ugly societies into beautiful prose: another is to go get pitch and feathers and teach the hounds how to use them. If there is a pillory, something is always wrong.

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