In the fifth in a series of posts on the seven habits of successful journalists, I explore how creativity can be developed in trainee journalists. You can read the posts on curiosity, scepticism, persistence and empathy here.
Describing journalism as a creative profession can cause discomfort for some reporters: we portray journalism as a neutral activity — “Just the facts” — different to fiction or arts that appear to ‘create something from nothing’.
But journalism is absolutely a creative endeavour: we must choose how to tell our stories: where to point the camera (literally or metaphorically), how to frame the shot, where to cut and what to retain and discard, and how to combine the results to tell a story succinctly, accurately and fairly (not always the story we set out to tell).
We must use creativity to solve problems that might prevent us getting the ‘camera’ in that position in the first place, to find the people with newsworthy stories to tell, to adapt when we can’t find the information we want, or it doesn’t say what we expected (in fact, factual storytelling requires an extra level of creativity given that we can only work with the truth).
All of those are creative decisions.
And before all of that, we must come up with ideas for stories too. The journalist who relies entirely on press releases is rightly sneered at: it is a sign of a lack of imagination when a reporter cannot generate their own ideas about where to look for news leads, or how to pursue those. Continue reading