9 آبان 1392

News facts butchered by fictional narrative

31 October 2013

Translated by:Mehrdad Safa

Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: Has a new genre of news reporting gained popularity in modern Iranian journalism? One that shares the traits of both news story and feature, provides extra trivia and includes the opinion of reporter himself within the story.

Is this nascent genre same as ‘soft news’, making ‘reverse pyramid’ look pale? Or it is a new initiative of young Iranian journalists? To gain a better understanding of this emerging genre, we monitored the news stories of political pages of two reformist Iranian newspapers – Bahar and Shargh – from August 21 to 28. Then we asked media experts for their opinions.

BBC editor: News with long trivia no longer popular

“If you read up to the middle of a news story, yet many questions were remained unanswered or even new questions came into your mind, the writing style of that piece of news must have had grave problems,” says BBC Persian news editor Amir Azimi. “Soft news, by general definition, does not deal with serious or official stuff, although it can be about the sidelines of a serious event” Azimi explains. “For example, if a few MPs are taking a nap during an important speech, it is a soft news.”

“In hard news, however, reporter tries to give the most important information as soon as possible. Therefore, the reader would be able to gain the most advantageous information, not the largest information, in the shortest time,” he adds.

‘It’s a legacy of Raymond Aron’

“Long years ago, I introduced a French news story narrative –best represented in late journalist Raymond Aron’s works – [into Iranian journalism] in my feature articles for Payam-e Emrouz monthly magazine,” says Iranian journalist and writer Masoud Behnoud.

“More recently, the epitome of this news story narrative is Mohammad Ghouchani, who have many followers and imitators,” he adds.

“What we are witnessing now in some newspapers, including Bahar, Shargh and Etemaad, is the same genre with an alternation in content, not in form,” Behnoud explains.

The difference between, Behnoud believes, is that his and Ghouchani’s news writing style was specifically written for magazines, while today this style is being used in newspapers that are supposed to report facts in their news articles.

“Today, journalists like Reyhaneh Tabatabai and Azam Vismeh transform and decorate news stories. If they only could preserve their impartiality in reporting facts, cite sources for their opinion and hold back their feelings,” Behnoud tells us about the news writing style of Shargh and Bahar newspapers.

“These are really well-written news articles. However, you can see through the opinion of reporter. And this is exactly like a dress with visible seams and stitches,” Behnoud criticizes.

Fictional narrative instead of reporting facts

“It is the problem of us ourselves who are used to feed the readers what they like to read. If you ask readers about their favorite newspapers, you will see to which habit we have made readers accustomed to: news reporting or a well-designed fiction writing?” says Iranian journalist and cartoonist Nikahang Kosar.

“Today, fictional writing, as a substitute for news reporting, has become well-established. And when a writer uses “sweet” style, the reader thinks that’s all it could be,” Kosar adds.

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