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Irony Alert!: This blog may be a tad contrary.

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August 08, 2007



I'll always remember the 'undercover' stuff I did as part of my journalism studies. It just seems so wrong to me to even consider not telling your subjects that you'll be writing about them. I think that's made easier by never having wanted to be a 'hard' news writer.

We did study some examples of feature stories written 'undercover', and they probably couldn't have been written 'not undercover'. But then - personally - I would question whether they needed to be written. But then, I can be a bit boring that way, and I think that's why I've never managed to change the world. I haven't pushed the boundaries enough.

Now, where on earth did all of that come from? That was nothing like what I expected to write when I began this comment.


Also, why am I not surprised you keep calling their gopher a gerbil?

Pavlov's Cat

"It's almost totally contra to what a CW identity from the Australian southern Gothic capital said to one of my students when she asked him what he thought about CNF: 'it's just adding a bit of flavour; a bit of a fad.'"

Oh dear, really?

That's quite useful to know.

Francis Xavier Holden

OMG! GT - Did you get his autograph. Or is that uncool?

Frank Sinatra has a cold. one of my favs.
Here it is:

James Lee Burke often mentions that persistence and a thick skin are writer’s tools.

At age 34 Burke already had 3 novels published. He then went 9 years before his next was accepted. His then work, The Lost Get Back Boogie, received more than 100 rejections, which he reckons is an industry record,"


PC -- he may have just been giving a quick and easy answer to students. He might define it differently when speaking to practitioners on the field (why not try it on him)? But y'know, non-fiction does sell well these days. Good reason to take it seriosuly.

FXH -- there probably would have been the opportunity to get his autograph...I'm always a bit iffy about the value of autobiographs (just something on a bit of paper after all).


Actually, I didn't mean to be so black and white about that up there. I suppose I was thinking more straight journalism and meant more about if you are interviewing or psuedo-interviewing them...and we did look at Truman Capote as a particularly interesting example. Actually, I have, on the back of this post, gone and unwrapped the box where I've got all my reading on notes and essays on this is very fascinating to me. As you can tell.

Also, I've always been fascinated by that stuff about recounting dialogue.

I'll be off now, because clearly I'm still as muddled up as I was when I studied it!


I've had fantasies about doing this kind of writing, but the more I blog, the more I realise how much I have to learn about it. Fascinating to read about, and I hope you're enjoying it immensely.


I though the CNF argument had been won (or lost) a while back? Why the resistance to it I wonder? As someone who writes primarily in a factual mode if I ever get enough gumption to try my hand at more "creative" work this would be what interests me, ie, reportage with a creative bent.


Jennifer -- from what I've seen of your blog, you could write some kind of trade book on social policy issues for women without having to get into the nitty gritty issues of CNF.

Kate -- I think there are still a variety positions in relation to CNF in Australia, and certainly within CNF in America.

I've been reading more about DEST online and what it considers research, and it seems that schools of journalism have had the same problem as CW in getting what they do credited as 'research' activities. Which is interesting, as the kind of research that CNF does is of investigative journalistic nature and not standard social science qualitative research. Huis clos. We're staring at the blank face of empiricism.


Hi E - been out of the loop...

Fascinating hearing about these issues of CNF - but I betray my ignorance with the following question. Tell me more about the 'fabricated end of In Cold Blood', and why dont I know about this?

Are people not pleased with him because of lack of disclosure in general, or more so because of this 'fabrication' bit? And anyway, what is the extent of his duty to stick to the truth as he uncovered it?


Gosh, you sound like a lawyer. Perhaps we should discuss all this over drinks some time.

TC fabricated the end of _In Cold Blood_ in the way Hollywood producers might provide an alternative ending after screentesting for viewers. He made up an episode in which one of his interviewees, the teenage best friend of the murdered Cutter girl, passes the Cutters' house on pony, and feels older, sadder, wiser, tho 'life moves on', etc etc. Or maybe it was their graves. It's fairly innocuous ending, anyway, but those from the hard journalism fold don't like it, as it suggests a laissez-faire attitude to reporting facts: i.e. if he was prepared to make this up, what else did/would he do, etc? Although our realities are necessarily partial, etc, it doesn't mean you have the license to make things up in a non-fiction setting.


Interesting - and glad to hear the 'fabrication' bit was not more substantial (which I momentarily feared).

A topic for drinks indeed!! I hate sounding like a lawyer - but sometimes that stuff just slips out!

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