Thursday, May 7, 2009

A new age for the Missourian?

In my Intermediate Writing class yesterday, longtime MU journalism professor and narrative cheerleader Steve Weinberg spoke up about an interesting trend he observed in the Missourian.

A major narrative appeared on the front page of every Missourian for three editions in a row, he said.

First came a profile of Fred Parry in Sunday's paper. Then came Jessica Showers' profile of Jessica Huang, a fledgling writer of 10-minute plays, on Tuesday. And then on Wednesday came Jenny Rogers' profile of Charles Carter, a regular at the Salvation Army.

They came on the heels of last week's two-part series on the exoneration of Josh Kezer.

Steve said he hadn't seen this kind of work published consistently in the Missourian in decades.

The development, he suggested, could herald a new era of thoughtful, high-quality journalism for the paper. He seemed to read it as a sign of hope not only for it but also for print journalism itself.

I hope this is not an isolated development. I hope the Missourian will continue traveling in this direction for a while.

It's no surprise each of the three profiles topped the most-read list for several hours. People read good stories. People want stories. People need stories. The title of Joan Didion's nonfiction collection, I remember nearly daily, is "We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live." If we want to live, we're going to need stories.

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