Teaching literary journalism: Journalism fermented with life experience: theory into practice in a literary journalism classroom
Teaching literary journalism involves exploring with students a diverse set of, masterly examples of Literary Journalism, from ‘standard’ long-form feature articles by acclaimed writers to multi-media pieces such as the Guardian’s Firestorm about a family who survived a horrific wildfire, to beautifully crafted audio works like Children of Sodom and Gomorrah, a 50-minute audio feature about e-waste, exploitation, and African child asylum seekers. Ground-breaking long-form television series, such as The Wire, which though fictional, was anchored in years of meticulous journalistic research by writer David Simon into Baltimore’s social, cultural and political circumstances, brings another perspective to the genre. Then from analyzing texts workshops shift to the craft of writing: immersion, in-depth interviewing, ‘aerobic listening,’ finding structure, ‘chaptering’, capturing dialogue, using fresh, descriptive language, setting out a scene to reveal character or advance plot. This article describes the experience of teaching literary journalism and the ways a group of students put literary journalism theory into practice.