Everyman News

This book is again overdue at the library. I’m returning it today.

The subtitle is “The Changing American Front Page.” This awesome book by Michele Weldon is chock-full of really interesting facts about trends in journalism. One trend? Feature-style writing is taking over the front page.

The casual tone of bloggers is seeping into the mainstream. Of course, I like that. I like that blogging, too, is seen as journalism. In 2008, seven out of eight presidential candidates attended the second annual YearlyKos convention for bloggers. Everyone was there except Joe Biden. Awww, Joe, you missed that party.

Another trend? Ever since Katrina and 9/11, journalists have paid more attention to “unofficial” sources. That is, if you only listened to You’re-doing-a-heckova-job-Brownie, “official” sources, you’d never know there were people sleeping in the Astrodome in New Orleans. The person on the street keeps us honest. And keeps us real.

The shared emotional experience of 9/11 made us want to talk about the news from a more personal POV. There was little in the way of facts at first, but there was lots in the way of feelings.

I have to say I struggle with this at work where I get the feeling that the old guard wants more detached journalism, more news, less personal voice, less narrative, less feature-style reporting. Features = my specialty.

See, I want to present stories in all their emotional rawness. I want to present the human angle. And I want to get the facts straight, research the quotes, remain objective.

No wonder this writer, dear reader, feels confused.

There’s lots of juicy bits in this book for journalists: in 2005, 73 percent of all the Pulitzer-prize winning stories had anecdotal or narrative leads. People dig narrative. It hits you in the heart AND the head.

I’m just sorry I have to return “Everyman News” before I’ve finished it. But that may be another trend. We read less. And then, we keep things out of the library too long and have to pay a fine.

Any way, if you’re looking for me, I’ll be at the New York Public library. http://www.nypl.org/locations/morningside-heights