Journalistic writing as a creative endeavor

While enrolled in J2100 news writing last semester, it was sometimes difficult to remember the more creative aspects of being a journalist. We were so focused on learning the technicalities of news writing (e.g., following AP and Missourian style) and producing so much work that it sometimes was forgotten that, though committed to the facts, journalism is still highly creative and embodies all the exciting elements of creativity.

I enjoyed that Rick Agran addressed it as such when he spoke at lecture about the 600-700 word stories we will be writing for our final projects in this class. I was a bit surprised when I read Agran’s bio on the Missouri School of Journalism website.

For most of his lecture, I was unaware that he was a fine arts and culture reporter until he mentioned it toward the end. As I will be entering the Arts and Culture sequence next semester, I found this particularly interesting. I also was intrigued by the fact that he has written a children’s book, produced a radio show about poetry, and is, himself, a poet. Agran seemed to me a mix of my two worlds at Mizzou, as I am majoring in both Journalism and English.

While it is highly important to get the facts straight and write consistently in line with the style guide of the publication for which you work, journalism stories can–and should–still have those elements of creativity and art. Like the picture of the mosaic Agran showed us, each element (facts, style, and creativity) is a piece that is cemented together to create a larger, more beautiful whole. I very much enjoyed the fact that, instead of focusing so much on the technical aspects which I thought is what the lecture would be about, Agran talked about writing our stories for our final project as a creative endeavor in ways such as using free writes to brainstorm ideas, while tying it to the journalistic goals of reflecting the audience’s needs, investigating the questions of what we don’t yet know and answering the larger question, ‘Why should we care?’

Agran’s lecture was a nice reminder of the fun and creativity that pursuing journalistic stories can yield, which I sometimes forget amidst the stress of fulfilling the technicalities.

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