Journalists know that their readership is changing. The primary approach to this change has been, frankly, to panic. And of course to fire people. To offer the same style and content, but with links to Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. I’ve come to the conclusion that these things don’t help. What readers want is a different style of journalism.
With my new alternative news venture DeltaFourth, I’ve written a long piece in the style of a novel. I aimed to make the actual writing respond to the excitement and the revelations of the content. In this case, it’s called The Murder of Yasser Arafat. So I wanted to make it read like a thriller.
That idea is anathema to many traditional journalists. The notion of objective journalism, particularly in the U.S., is to take something exciting and report “just the facts.” Ah, but facts are so dull. Try this: Yasser Arafat was murdered. Kind of interesting, makes you want to know how, but also makes you think “Oh, so that’s all there is to it.” Doesn’t make you think: “Wow, how did that happen and who did it?” Read my piece and you’ll keep going to the end because of the style I brought to it from my fictional crime writing.
I came to this conclusion with my pal Matthew Kalman. Between us we have almost 60 years of journalism experience. We’ve always been trying to make our journalism more exciting and readable. But we often find that there’s a fat guy or an argumentative lady in New York or London (known as an editor) determined to make it as bland as possible. By publishing our own work through our own company for download, we eliminated the fat guy and the argumentative lady.
It’s also a generational shift in the attitude to writing. I spoke to some teenage schoolkids recently. One of them has written a sci-fi novel and was intrigued to know about the new validity of “self-publishing” online. By publishing her work (once it’s ready), I expect she’ll bring young people to reading a literature of their own by one of their own that will later translate into reading of other works.
I hope you’ll enjoy DeltaFourth as we produce more pieces. We’ll have one soon (about the time of the Israeli election) about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and why he really wants to be a failed prime minister….