Kenny Boudreaux

Fact In the Form of Fiction: The Art of Literary Journalism Gaining Momentum

Literary journalism, a form of writing that uses literary techniques to tell nonfiction stories, is a field of writing that in the past has been overlooked and undervalued within the disciplines of both literature and journalism. Fierce debate surrounded the so-called New Journalism of the 1960s and 1970s because it offended traditional notions of journalism and prose fiction. Some writers' unethical practices didn't help literary journalism's cause. By 1980, New Journalism disappeared. However, prejudices against the writing style began to disappear in 1990s and 2000s, replaced by a growing awareness within the disciplines of the value and interest of literary journalism, past, present, and future. Colleges and universities have been offering literary journalism education, and some institutions now offer degrees. Although many challenges prevent newspapers from taking on literary journalism articles, more magazines, book publishers, and online publications are recognizing that literary journalists offer vibrant and challenging stories. These compositions provide fresh insights into major issues of the day and evoke powerful public and critical responses. Standard journalism, rooted strictly in facts, cannot offer the in-depth value of literary journalism. Likewise, prose fiction cannot match the real-life impact of literary journalism. Literary journalists must be skilled at both standard journalism and prose fiction techniques. This unique form is starting to be scrutinized as literature.


In introductory reporting classes, journalism students are taught to use the inverted pyramid to format their objective, fact-driven stories. The questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how should be answered in the first paragraph -- or lead -- of each story. The inverted pyramid restricts writer creativity and guides writers to list the story's most valuable information at the beginning of the story and condescend to the least important information. The format allows readers to leave the story at any point and be able to understand it, even if they do not know all of the details. The inverted pyramid also allows editors to remove less important information at the bottom of the story so the article can fit into the allocated space in a publication. If another newspaper reprints the story from a news wire, the story may even be cut into a brief of about two to four paragraphs.

Meanwhile, prose fiction students are taught in workshop classes to create stories from their imaginations. Instead of writing in the inverted pyramid form, prose fiction writers focus on several literary elements including plot, setting, dialogue, characterization, conflict, symbols, metaphors, point-of-view, and theme. By "showing instead of telling a story," as Nicholls State University Professor and published novelist Albert Davis once described to his creative writing students, prose fiction writers fill their stories with scenes and dialogue in an attempt to "take the reader on a journey." If a reader leaves the story at any point before the end, he or she won't capture the full meaning and purpose of the composition. The story's end — the resolution — often serves as the most important section of the story.

Then there's literary journalism, a hybrid writing style that borrows techniques from journalism and prose fiction. Literary journalism contrasts with other nonfiction, such as technical writing, science writing, and standard journalism. Those styles are also rooted in accurate fact, but they are not written with the intention of being considered literature or art. Literary journalism has also been called literary nonfiction, narrative journalism, intimate journalism, and New Journalism. Literary journalism uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives. In his book New Journalism (1974), literary journalism expert Tom Wolfe writes that literary journalism is superior to prose fiction because "the simple fact that the reader knows all of this actually happened" (p. 9). As Cindy Royal explains (2000), literary journalists attempt to convey deeper truths than what simple facts alone cannot.

Fiction writers create their stories, but literary journalists must work within the boundaries of dialogue and scenes they've witnessed, spoken to other witnesses about, or researched. Literary journalism could also be considered the written equivalent to a documentary or movie based on a true story. Sol Stein (1995) believes "like fiction, nonfiction accomplishes its purpose better when it evokes emotion in the reader […] As the recorded events march before the reader, a scrim lifts to covey other dimensions, sight becomes insight, reporting becomes art" (p. 224). Though writers have practiced literary journalism for centuries, the unique writing genre didn't start gaining significant recognition until the past few decades. Since then, the study and education of literary journalism have risen across the world, and more publications have been publishing descriptive nonfiction stories.

Despite some unethical practices by past writers hindering the progress of literary journalism, several experts in the field believe literary journalism is on the cusp of breaking through as a mainstream form of literature. Literary journalism is now beginning to be scrutinized with the same critical analysis given to fiction and poetry. Paul Many (1996) says “journalists must tell us not only those facts which we can immediately see, but also what people know in their dreams, memories and hearts. By doing so, publications will give a fuller account of reality, allowing us to find the hope we can see in the unfolding of real events” (p.63).

One of the best examples of literary journalism can be seen in Katie McCabe's “Like Something the Lord Made: The Vivien Thomas Story,” published in The Washingtonian in August 1989. The article tells the story of the 34-year partnership between a surgeon and a lab assistant who pioneered modern heart surgery. The narrative takes place in Nashville during the Depression Era in 1930 when Dr. Alfred Blalock hires Vivien Thomas, an assistant in Dr. Blalock's lab with no medical education. Blalock expects Thomas to do janitorial work. However, Thomas's manual control and intellectual abilities surpass Blalock's expectations, and Thomas rapidly becomes a valuable research partner to Blalock in his exploration into heart surgery. Thomas even performs the operation that changed the course of heart surgery. Thomas, a black man, had to fight against racial prejudices in the medical profession during that time. Instead of telling a fact-filled story, Katie McCabe recreated the story in narrative form. She interviewed Thomas in 1985 the day before he died and spoke with another surgeon, Dr. Denton Cooley, to capture the entire story. McCabe opens her story in true literary journalism form:

Say his name, and the busiest of heart surgeons in the world will stop and talk for an hour. Of course they have time, they say, these men who count time in seconds, who race against the clock. This is about Vivien Thomas. For Vivien they'll make time.

Dr. Denton Cooley has just come out of surgery, and he has 47 minutes between operations. "No, you don't need an appointment," his secretary is saying. "Dr. Cooley's right here. He wants to talk to you now."

Cooley is on the line from his Texas Heart Institute in Houston. In a slow Texas drawl he says he just loves being bothered about Vivien. And then, in 47 minutes, just about the time it takes him to do a triple bypass — he tells you about the man who taught him that kind of speed.

No, Vivien Thomas wasn't a doctor. He wasn't even a college graduate. He was just so smart, so skilled, and so much his own man, it didn't matter. He could operate. Even if you'd never seen surgery before, Cooley says, you could do it because Vivien made it look so simple.

Vivien Thomas and Denton Cooley both arrived at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1941 — Cooley to begin work on his medical degree, Thomas to run the surgical lab under Dr. Alfred Blalock. In 1941, the only other black employees at the Johns Hopkins Hospital were janitors. People stared at Thomas, flying down corridors in his white lab coat.

Visitors' eyes widened at the sight of a black man running the lab. But ultimately the fact that Thomas was black didn't matter, either. What mattered was that Alfred Blalock and he could do historic things together that neither could do alone. (p.109-110).

McCabe floods her 12,000 word story with scenes and dialogue, similar to a prose fiction short story. She concludes her article through a conversation with Thomas as he recollects the moments during the breakthrough heart surgery. Like many prose fiction stories, she titles her article on a comment Dr. Blalock made — the final line in the story. McCabe waits until the end of the story to reveal its purpose. If this article had been published in the inverted pyramid format of standard journalism, the successful heart surgery would have been mentioned in the lead. Her ending:

It went on for more than a half century. “The Master,” Rollins Hanlon called him the day he presented Thomas's portrait on behalf of the Old Hands. Hanlon, the surgeon and scholar, spoke of Thomas's hands, and of the man who was greater still; of the synergy of two great men, Thomas and Blalock. Today, in heavy gilt frames, those two men silently look at each other from opposite walls of the Blalock Building, just as one morning 40 years ago they stood in silence at Hopkins.

Thomas had surprised The Professor with an operation he had conceived, then kept secret until healing was completed.The first and only one conceived entirely by Thomas, it was complex but now common operation called atrial septectomy.

Using a canine model, he had found a way to improve circulation in patients whose great vessels were transposed. The problem had stymied Blalock for months, and now it seemed that Thomas had solved it.

“Neither he nor I spoke for some four or five minutes while he stood there examining the heart,running the tip of his finger back and forth through the moderate-sized defect in the atrial septum, feeling the healed edges of the defect. We examined the outside of the heart and found the suture line with most of the silk still intact. This was the only evidence that an incision had been made in the heart.

“Internal healing of the incision was without flaw. The sutures could not be seen from within, and on gross examination the edges of the defect were smooth and covered with endocardium. Dr. Blalock finally broke the silence by asking, 'Vivien, are you sure you did this?' I answered in the affirmative, and he paused.

“Well, this looks like something the Lord made.” (p. 233)

Stories like McCabe's have inspired the education of literary journalism. Recently, several colleges and universities have added literary journalism studies to their curriculum. Independent research reveals that University of California-Irvine offers a master's degree in literary journalism, and Asbury College, a Christian liberal arts school in Kentucky, offers a bachelor's degree. Several more colleges and universities have one or two literary journalism classes in their journalism or English departments, and some institutions give students the option of minoring in literary journalism. Journalism students seeking a master of arts degree or master of fine arts degree in journalism from any school are often required to complete at least one literary journalism class. Many other higher education schools grant degrees and offer classes in creative nonfiction, a branch of writing that in addition to literary journalism includes personal essays, memoirs, travel writing, food writing, biographies, and other hybridized essays.

Norman Sims (2009), professor of journalism at the University of Massachusetts and author and editor of multiple articles and books concerning literary journalism, said literary journalism classes are often placed under the umbrella of journalism departments, and creative nonfiction classes are usually linked to English departments because of "an ancient bias" toward journalism (p. 8). Sims also says in an e-mail that several doctoral dissertations worldwide about literary journalism are completed each year. Also, nearly all journalism programs across the world require students to take feature writing, a style of composition that introduces literary journalism techniques but errs on the side of standard journalism. Feature stories, between 1,000-2,500 words in length, often begin and end with anecdotes, scenes, and dialogue that link to one another, but the middle of the story is usually filled with in-depth information gathered from research and interviews.

However, the feature story does not follow the inverted pyramid format of standard journalism. Instead, the information is strategically placed to create "spikes" in the composition, as Dr. Lloyd Chiasson Jr., professor of mass communication at Nicholls State University in Louisiana, explains to his feature writing class each spring, to keep the reader's interest from start to finish. Most feature writing professors require students to write at least one 2,500-word descriptive feature story, a short literary journalism piece. Feature writing serves as a stepping stone between regular journalism and literary journalism. UC-Irvine's website says it offered its literary journalism degree program to "meet the needs of a growing number of students who wish to read, study and write nonfiction prose that has transcended the limits of daily journalism. [...] The program provides majors with a solid foundation in nonfiction writing and an equally solid background in areas such as literary history, which together will help make them more informed writers."

The rising interest of literary journalism among writers and readers led to the creation of the International Association for Literary Journalism Studies (IALJS), an organization founded in 2006 to promote the study, teaching, and research of literary journalism throughout the world. The group in 2009 launched its own journal, Literary Journalism Review, that prints scholarly articles, essays, excerpts, and book reviews concerning literary journalism. At IALJS conferences, scholars from China, Turkey, Brazil, Russia, Portugal, Latin America, Africa, and Europe gather to exchange ideas. However, Sims (2009) explains that most international forms of literary journalism "often put more stress on social usefulness than on artistry, which may be one of many marks that distinguish them from the North American varieties" (p. 10).

Sims believes more translations of international literary journalism works would help English-speaking writers learn new techniques and approaches from their neighbors and become even better educated and skilled. Sims's Literary Journalism in the Twentieth Century (1990, re-issued 2008), serves as the primary textbook for literary journalism classes across the United States. James Silas Rogers (2009) describes Sims's book as one that “has made it possible to teach literary journalism as a distinct genre […] and assumes an historic standing as a turning point in the discipline's understanding of itself” (p. 117).

Despite the growing interest in literary journalism education, Sims in an e-mail says major job openings are still limited. However, more publications have been giving literary journalism a chance, and experts anticipate an increase in publications that will publish literary journalism. Sims says the average professional literary journalist must have at least 10 years of experience as a reporter and feature writer before earning a major opportunity in the field. By that time, Sims says a writer's portfolio of work accumulated during the decade matters more than any earned degree. "Getting a job in this environment is tough, but getting a position to do literary journalism as a young writer is unheard of. You have to write miles and miles of sentences and become a good reporter. That makes it sound like a tough profession, and it is, but the best writers get there," Sims writes.

Most newspapers don't have the space to print long literary journalism stories, but they may publish a couple feature stories a week. Some newspapers on Sundays or Wednesdays may insert syndicated magazines such as Parade that include literary journalism stories (Royal, 2000). National general interest magazines such as The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper's Magazine, and Atlantic Monthly are well-known for publishing literary journalism pieces. John Seabrook of The New Yorker said in a published speech (2001) at Northwestern University, that specialty magazines "aren't the best place for literary journalism because most of the readers are experts on the topic. They just want the facts" (p.7). Readers of general interest magazines, Seabrook asserts, are trying to learn about things they don't know about "and are willing to take that journey of the unknown with a writer" (p. 8).

Magazine publishers rarely hire staff writers, so freelance writers produce most of the content for periodicals. Unlike newspaper publishers that often pay staffers by salary, magazine companies pay contributors based on reputation, time spent on the article, length of the story, and quality of work. Some magazines may even reimburse the writer's travel expenses or cost of research to complete a story. Few magazines maintain exclusive rights to an article, so most periodicals buy first-time or one-time serial rights. This means the writer can submit his or her articles to multiple magazines for publication after a certain amount of time has passed. A high-quality and popular article can help a writer earn thousands of dollars.

According to the Writer's Market (2010), The New Yorker, perhaps literary journalism's most popular magazine, distributes 1 million copies monthly across the United States and receives 4,000 new submissions per month. No more than two of those articles get accepted for publication, and payment varies per story. Esquire, circulation 720,000, buys four 5,000-word literary journalism stories a year. (Writer's Market, 2010) Of the major publications noted for literary journalism, only Harper's Magazine reveals its pay scale. Harper's prints 230,000 copies per month and buys two 4,000-6,000 literary journalism stories a year for $1 per word (Writer's Market, 2010). One article could earn a writer up to $6,000 at Harper's.

Although newspapers rarely publish long-form literary journalism stories or a series, editors often assign feature stories to their most experienced or talented reporters. Some newspapers hire feature writers to focus only on human interest articles and allow them to sprinkle literary techniques into their stories. According to the Society of Professional Journalists (2010), reporters get paid between $24,000 and $40,000 a year, and feature-specific writers make $40,000-90,000 annually. All writers — regardless of experience or skills — can still publish features and literary journalism stories on blogs, online publications, or local magazines, but the pay will be much less than any of the major publications (Royal, 2000).

Erika Hayaski, literary journalism professor at UC-Irvine, in an e-mail interview says she believes literary journalism has grown in recent years “because readers want to feel emotionally connected to people they read about.” Several other critics have echoed those opinions. Paul Many (1996) says standard journalism and its strict objectivity requirement often bore the reader and “handcuff the writer's ability to portray a unique angle of an interesting story” (p. 62). This is in contrast to what readers want. The media study called Keys to Our Survival (2002) revealed that adult readers would like to see publications publish follow-up reports, explanations of complex issues, in-depth stories beyond headlines, and more stories that focus on people rather than events.

Several critics cite court cases as a primary example of why literary journalism works more effectively than standard reporting. Many (1996) explains:

Why not use other information available in a courtroom, for example, to get a better portrait of reality: the facts that the bailiff is rude and rumpled, that the judge is grumpy and her hand is shaking from a hangover, and that it's a steely, sunny day in mid-winter? These may be important factors in how an African-American man on trial perceives and is treated by the justice system, and may explain later actions of that man. There's no more factual, objective proceeding than a trial.

And yet, isn't it common for attorneys to make such literary moves as setting scenes, causing witnesses to spill their inmost thoughts, getting significant dialog on the record? These fact patterns, although it takes work to pin them down, cross-check and verify, are not trivial.

As any regular viewer of Court TV knows, a weapon and a body are not always enough to convict someone of a murder. Such trials often hinge on such "factual"intangibles, for example, as intents and motives. At this writing, much is being made in the double murder trial of a football-star-turned-movie-actor as to the actions and motives of a detective at the crime scene in an attempt to establish that he tampered with evidence. Witnesses are being plied with questions to elicit the defendant's state of mind. And even the attitudes of victims are being brought into question. (p. 65)

News, as it is commonly written, can often dilute the actual events of a car accident, house fire, bank robbery, prostitution arrest, street riot, etc. The news story in the inverted pyramid makes each event seem similar to other events like it, although each situation is unique in its own right. Seabrook (2000) says literary journalism stories give writers a chance to become part of the audience, which in turn makes the reader feel a part of the story. Writers risk losing the authority that comes with a byline, Seabrook (2000) says, but literary journalism provides a unique opportunity to connect with a reader in a way impossible through standard journalism. Seabrook (2000) says:

The writer's authority is now going to be based not on having a greater knowledge at the beginning, but rather your authority is going to be based on establishing a connection with the reader saying, 'I'm just like you. I'm an average Joe, and I want you to listen to me and believe me because in the course of this story, we're going to share some experiences that we both perhaps would have in common as we encounter whatever the subject is going to be. (p. 8)

Paul Many (1996) believes news that is more literary might save publications, and be savored as an art. Not because of its alleged happy messages, sensationalism or distortion, he says, but because it strives to tell the honest truth about individuals who live in ways that don't fit the stereotypes of society, which tend to dehumanize and bury uniqueness in abstractions. “This truth is ever now and new and not repeatable any more than the seconds it takes you to read these words,” Many writes. “[Publications] need more literary journalism for their very survival, but it has become their last, best hope” (1996, p. 68). Mas'ud Zavarzadeh (1976) believes publications should thrive on literary journalism because it shows “phenomena in the world accessible to ordinary human senses and, unlike contents of fiction, exist outside book covers. The subjectivity involved in all acts of human perception of the external world does not deny the phenomenalistic status of experiences transcribed” (p. 226). Several critics believe editors should embrace the pros of the narrative storytelling, scene-driven, and dialogue-dominated version of journalism.

However, editors also have reasons to be wary of including literary journalism into their publications. The form's subjective nature and blurring fact with fictional techniques provide just as many cons as pros. Several writers during the past couple decades have undermined literary journalism's credibility by fabricating sections of their stories. Pulitzer Prize winner Janet Cooke in an 1981 article in the Washington Post created scenes of a fictitious 8-year-old heroin addict in her winning story and was forced to return her award (Harvey, 1994). In 1984, psychoanalyst Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson sued New Yorker writer Janet Malcolm for allegedly misquoting him in several of her magazine articles and subsequent book In the Freud Archives. The court did not award Masson the $10 million he hoped for during the case of Masson vs. The New Yorker because of insufficient evidence (Harvey, 1994).

More recently, New York Times reporter Jayson Blair got fired in 2003 for plagiarism his stories and fabricating scenes in many of his stories. Then, in 2006, James Frey, in his memoir A Million Little Pieces, admitted that his recorded experiences were fiction (The Smoking Gun, 2006). The New Yorker on Frey's back cover had even praised Frey's book as “frenzied, electrifying description of the experience.” Those are just a sampling of scandals involving literary techniques in journalism. Bernard Judge (as cited in Beuttler, 1984), editor of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Chicago Lawyer magazine, and Pulitzer Prize committee member, thinks publications should avoid literary journalism and “entertainment” to protect their reputations (p. 5). Mary Knobluach (as cited in Beuttler, 1984), former features editor at The Chicago Tribune, understands the problems that arise when writers are given power and freedom to be creative with their nonfiction stories. “There is the danger of, to make your story better you fudge the facts,” Knobluach says. “You build your scenes not quite the way they happened but the way you wished they'd happen. It's unfortunate” (p. 5).

Sometimes a literary journalistic article can be completely accurate and still cause controversy — and even cost the subject to lose his or her job. In the June 2010 issue of Rolling Stone, for instance, contributor Michael Hastings spent weeks in Afghanistan with officials to report on the happenings on the ground in the war against terrorism (Hastings, 2010). He subsequently wrote a descriptive, dialogue-driven story, “The Runaway General,” that led to the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a four-star general and top commander in the war in Afghanistan. In the article, McChrystal's aides made several unflattering remarks toward President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Obama's war policies (Hastings, 2010). McChrystal did not directly speak against either of the three issues, but the article implies through his actions that he agreed with his aides. The article has led many to question if a journalist should record dialogue and scenes they've witnessed without asking the subject to explain potentially controversial comments.

Dr. Stephen Ward (as cited in Rogers, 2010), professor and ethics expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison journalism school and former Persian Gulf War correspondent, says public relations should coach officials to speak to the media. He does feel journalists should use better judgment, however. “You might say, “That's a very interesting thing you say about the president,” Ward says. “Why do you say he's detached,' or something like that. Make sure they elaborate on what they've said” (Rogers, 2). Despite the scandalous and ethical issues in the past that have hindered the progress literary journalism, most experts believe the increase in education will better prepare up-and-coming narrative journalists to avoid crucial mistakes.

Literary journalism rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s. However, Dr. Lloyd Chiasson Jr. (1999), explains that some authors have used literary techniques in their journalistic writing for several decades prior to literary journalism's breakthrough. In 3 Centuries of American Media, he writes:

One things for certain, however. [Literary journalism] was not new. At various times and for various reasons, many writers have tried to mesh these two seemingly different styles into one. The results have often been sensational, but usually the reason is that the writer is sensational. Such was the case with the famous turn-of-the-century muckraker Upton Sinclair, and his famous novel about the meat-packing industry in Chicago.

Although it was fiction, The Jungle struck a cord with readers because it was based on real people and real problems. More artistic was Frank Norris's The Octopus, a nonfiction novel about California farmers and their bitter fight against the railroad monopoly. At the end of the story, Norris used [techniques] for which Truman Capote earned accolades 64 years later with his nonfiction novel In Cold Blood (1999, p. 178).

Other previous writers such as Stephen Crane, George Orwell, Charles Dickens, John Hersey, and Mark Twain used techniques currently found in literary journalism (Royal, 2000). Tom Wolfe, perhaps the most well-known literary journalism in history and advocate for the nonfiction novel, often used the term New Journalism in the 1960s to describe the style (Harvey, 1). It quickly became a proper noun used by editors and writers. Cindy Royal (2000) says Matthew Arnold coined the title New Journalism in 1887 to describe the brash, reform-minded style of W.T. Stead's writing in the Pall Mall Gazette. When New Journalism gained recognition in the 1960s, many viewed the style as unconventional. The unfamiliar techniques drew many supporters, but several critics failed to accept the new genre. Bill Beuttler (1984) quotes critic Dwight MacDonald as saying that literary journalists had created “a bastard form, having it both ways, exploiting the actual factual authority of journalism and the atmospheric license of fiction” (p. 3).

Nevertheless, newspapers and magazines across the nation started publishing literary journalism stories. New Journalism's breakthrough occurred in 1965 with the publication of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. The nonfiction novel accounts the murder of a Kansas farm family and the capture and execution of their two murderers; Capote conducted extensive interviews with those involved in the case, including the murderers. Chiasson (1999) writes that Capote recorded dialogue in full instead of partial quotes common in journalism, portrayed the characters' mannerisms, gestures, styles, and clothing, and he also employed a point of view. The book, which read like a fiction novel, gave New Journalism much prestige, and many newspaper, magazine, and book publishers started experimenting with New Journalism.

In addition to Capote and Wolfe, the New Journalism's golden era saw the emergence of prominent writers Gay Talese, Jimmy Breslin, Norman Mailer, and Hunter S. Thompson. Then, in the mid-1970s, New Journalism faded among newspapers and many magazines in favor of public affairs reporting, an in-depth, research-laden form of standard journalism that focuses on public issues. In the 1970s, reports about gas shortages, inflation, and employment replaced human interest stories (Beuttler, 1984). Also, around that time, several of the scandals and ethical issues surrounding writers using literary techniques surfaced. Some of the more credible and experienced writers started writing books, while some of the others wrote screenplays (Buttler, 1984). By the 1980s, New Journalism had all but ceased. Katie McCabe's “Like Something the Lord Made” became an exception in 1989.

Talese (as quoted in Buettler) also blamed New Journalism's downfall on young, inexperienced writers, while other critics said editors did not have the funds to pay a writer for a 10,000-20,000-word story (1984). Beuttler (1984) also writes that New Journalism became “unfashionable because many more of the capable writers found that there was no money to be made from novels and screenplays” (p.3). Literary journalism started gaining momentum once more in the 1990s. A study by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (1993), and many more surveys like it, found that readers preferred narrative pieces over inverted pyramid stories to receive their information (Royal, 2000).

Now, in 2010, most critics say literary journalism is on the verge of becoming a major writing style. Sims believes increased education of literary journalism will produce a new wave of quality literary journalists (2009). The better education, he says in an e-mail, will help writers avoid the pitfalls that stalled New Journalism in the mid-1970s. Although there are still just a few major magazines and book publishers that print literary journalistic material, Hayaski believes more national and international publications will surface in the next few years. Other established magazines may start including narrative journalism, she says. Hayaski and Sims believe publications will embrace literary journalism with more confidence than ever before since graduating students will understand the do's and don'ts of the writing form. Students, they say, will also develop the unique skills of both journalism and prose fiction writing to compete in the up-and-coming market of literary journalism.

Most experts also agree that the rise in online publications will give more writers a chance to share their literary journalism stories with the world (Royal, 2000). Publications on the Internet, known often as e-zines, easily accessible to anyone with a computer, are not limited with space and can publish long-form literary journalism pieces without many problems (Royal, 2000). Cindy Royal says online magazines also have downfalls, though (2000). Some site owners don't value accuracy and will post any material that will bring readers to their pages, opening the chance for fraudulent stories to be posted. Royal (2000) says “online journalism has shied away from including lengthy pieces on a screen that would require much scrolling on the part of the user. User attention is understood to be shorter in an online environment” (p.22). Also, Internet search engines only browse an online publication's keywords, or the first 200 or so words of an article, so readers might have trouble locating literary journalism stories.

Writers for online newspapers and magazines won't get paid nearly as much as the major publications. Hayaski, however, believes gaining some experience in literary journalism could open major opportunities for writers in the future. “Literary journalism is so specific,” Hayaski says. “Few people do it well, but jobs will open to students and writers who are passionate, determined, and talented.” She and many others believe the next major writing form in the world will be literary journalism — fact in the form of fiction..


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