What room should there be for such stories? This question is often at the center of heated discussions. Most of the time it opposes the mass media and their more elitist counterparts. The answer should be obvious: they are part of everyday life. They’re just as natural as politics, economics, and culture. A “truth sayer” can’t ignore them. But they engineer instant reactions. The real trick is in knowing how to cover them.
They’re made of blood, tears, and pains. They’re always emotional upheavals. As such, they must be covered extremely carefully and with the proper dissociation.
Even the tiniest imprecision can have negative consequences for the people involved
They’re at the crossroads of all proximities: geographical, temporal, and affective. They might occur at any time, any place, and affect anybody. The coverage should take into account their impact.
Respecting an individual’s right to privacy and dignity is an integral part of a journalist’s work ethic. As such, the journalist must keep his cold when treating human-interest stories that involve ordinary people and draw a line between the general public’s right to be informed and the right to privacy when human-interest stories involve public figures.
Be they natural catastrophes or odious crimes, human-interest stories induce emotions that you shouldn’t heighten through writing tricks. Be sober. Avoid epithets such as “tragic”, “awful” or “odious”.
To be impartial you must used the appropriate words for precise situations. All “murders are “homicide” but not all “homicides” are “murders”. A murder is premeditated. A “homicide” is the fact of killing a man, but it can be “premeditated” or “unpremeditated”. A “witness” is not an “accused”. A “suspect” is not necessarily “guilty”. Before writing the journalist must familiarize himself with judicial vocabulary, because he’s covering news where using the wrong word might have irreversible repercussions.
Covering human-interest stories affects deep-seated values of everyday life: love, hate, friendship, betrayal, trust, and mistrust… There are both a reflection and a mirror of universal notions. Some of these stories have a sociological impact that lifts them right out of the common lot. They become “social trends”. A penniless mother who steals food from a supermarket to feed her children, that’s more than theft; it’s an actual statement about human condition. A young man out of work killing himself in Africa might be the first inkling of a revolution to come. By becoming a social trend, the human-interest story enters the field of the report or the investigation. But be careful: don’t mix up covering what matters and being sensationalistic. The hotter the news, the calmer you must be.
Website by La Confiserie