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What Journalism Taught Me About Writing & Humanity

indie-music-coeur-de-pirate-

What goes on backstage. Coeur de Pirate’s sound test at Summer fest 2011.

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.

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