The Relevance of Lyric Journalism


The difference between lyric journalism and journalism is a component that allows for lyric journalism to be contemplative about the “bigger picture” and come to some kind of conclusion about the components of life. For example, it’s the difference between saying that the Romanticism Movement was was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850.” (thanks Wikipedia) and saying that it was the time where extreme fondness over one’s country and appreciation towards the land it inhabited was born. This in turn complemented other ideas circulating around the time, such as manifest destiny and transcendentalism. Can you tell I’m a fan of Romanticism? 🙂

Then the question arises of how someone can deliver a news story without embellishing it to some extent. Is it possible for someone to give an unbiased definition or fact, without them losing the impact that the story was meant to convey? My answer is that in the political climate that we live in today, with such polarized news sources and thoughts of news becoming fake or an  “alternative fact”, one has to be very careful. If one is meaning to come to a central conclusion or idea, as many examples of lyric journalism do, they must have equal representation of both sides of the coin. Romanticism sadly can’t play a part in this, because it would favor one side. 🙁

Another obstacle that faces lyric journalism is that of whether or not the idea that is being pulled out is the idea that was intended to be emphasized.

An example of making a story more than what it was would be the scandal in 2015 with Brian Williams being suspended for embellishing his story, so as to make it seem more interesting to listeners:

I find myself guilty of this, as I focus on only one thread of a story, so as to not bore anyone or create a general, sweeping narrative. In this way, a braided essay might do more to  encapsulate the entire story in terms of writing style. I think that as students interested in the creative non-fiction craft, we should be especially careful in making sure that whatever we intend on saying in our lyric journalism essays are also doing justice to what actually happened. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Ted Talk addresses this in her speech, as she warns viewers about the dangers of a single story, and how it impacted her development as a child. She speaks of reading European children’s books in her homeland in Africa and noticing their tendency to not include diversity in the cultures they portrayed. (If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to do so! –> )

So to tie in all of the things I’ve thrown around, lyric journalism is a way to turn a news story into something of an introspective informative essay. But one should be careful not to embellish the story so as to make it sound better, and to not fall into the trap of a “single story”, and do more to include more holistic aspects of the subject matter. With lyric journalism, we have the power to reiterate a story, but in a way that can capture the reader’s attention.