Anyone lived in a pretty how town…~ E.E. Cummings
As a teenager, I wasn’t much for journalism. I defined myself as a creative writer, too artistic and impatient for plain old facts. I didn’t like sports and never wanted to write the expose on the cafeteria pizza. I wrote stream-of-conscious poetry for guys who didn’t like poetry and didn’t like me.
I was an idiot.
Journalism is storytelling. At the Quebec City Chronicle-Telegraph (the oldest newspaper in North America), I focused mostly on the small stuff: charity drives, local teams, high school graduations, restaurant openings – the minutia of the small English-speaking community.
As small papers dry up or battle for readership online, we’re losing human-interest stories. We may never read Shelly Brown’s obituary, Shelly who spent thirty years working the counter at the deli; who gave the community three great children, who dedicated her life to rescuing dogs.
Why care about Shelly, the smiling deli worker? We have this to read:10 Things You Didn’t Know About Syria. 10 Things Amanda Knox Has in Common with a Unicorn. 15 Pugs Who Look Like Dictators.
Just like there’s a time and place for the above, (lunch breaks), there’s a time and place for newspapers: Sunday afternoons. I can’t remember the last time I sat with a newspaper article, chewed the story over, let it linger. I love blogs, but getting the story out is stressed more than getting the story out right.