On Storytelling: Or, Why I Will Never be a Journalist
This is in no way an attack on Journalism, but I’m an English major and have finally decided after months of trying to find my place, that it’s what I love. For a while - for a little while, at least - I thought Journalism and English could be used interchangeably. They’re both rooted in writing, after all. Not to tell you my life story, but I had this vision to double major in English and Journalism. I figured - writing blogs, reviewing stuff - this is Journalism, right? In a way, I suppose it is. I can do this. After two Journalism classes, that vision is gone and English is the only thing standing at the end of my path.
Here’s the problem I have with Journalism: you can’t lie.
I think the most important skill one can acquire is the ability to tell a good story. I love storytelling and the capacity for a good story to change your entire way of thinking. It’s all about presentation and Journalism has the biggest flaw one can have with storytelling: you need to tell the truth.
There’s a reason this whole concept entered my mind in the first place. It’s because of James Frey’s book, A Million Little Pieces. I know this is old news, but if you don’t know the story, here are the basics: Frey’s book was classified as a memoir, but a lot of it was made up. This led to a giant lawsuit and Oprah bitching him out on television (I wish I could find that video on YouTube).
It bothers me that so many people agree with Oprah. They feel like they were personally attacked and taken advantage of… but why can’t a story be a story? If you found out that The Blair Witch Project was fiction after thinking it was real, would you try and sue the producers? Does seeing something as a lie really ruin the story? Fiction is built upon a bed of lies and that’s what makes it entertaining. The most powerful stuff out there is usually a lie.
The reason I’m writing all this is because of one idea: lies have a way of making us see a greater truth. I’m pretty sure no one takes the story of Adam and Eve as fact (except maybe Pat Robertson), but millions can grasp the profound story hidden beneath the text.
Maybe it’s because I’m an English major, but Journalism is simply boring. Who wants to report on facts when you can make up an intricate structure of lies that teaches the same message in an equally (or more) powerful way?
Feel free, all you journalists out there, to yell at me in the comments section. But before you do, try writing some lies - I think you’ll agree, it’s a hell of a lot more fun.