Artistic License - Journalism YKTTW Discussion

Artistic License - Journalism
Fiction writers (and occasionally nonfiction writers themselves) getting nonfiction writing wrong.
Needs Examples
(permanent link) added: 2011-04-25 20:16:17 sponsor: AGroupie (last reply: 2012-03-14 11:27:41)

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Needs More Examples, I'm only listing some of the most blatant ones I can think of.

This trope has two subtypes: type A is writers who are journalists themselves depicting journalism (or worse, doing journalism) with a large dose of artistic license, and type B would be writers who have never wrote nonfiction and have no experience with nonfiction writing suddenly deciding they want to write journalists.


  • The Lone Reporter. While it's true that many articles still carry the byline of one author/reporter, newsgathering and reporting is a collaborative effort involving many people at every step along the way. While the lone, crusading Knight Templar reporter may be an ideal or fantasy for many writers, it is not the reality of reporting news in any major setting (and likely never has been for many years.)
  • Da Editor as the sole fact checker and gatekeeper of a media institution
  • Confusion of the headline and lead
  • Newspapers' print editions being a primary news source to the public in or after The Noughties (online editions, Twitter, and 24 hour news networks are that now) unless you have a VERY good reason for this being a Justified Trope in the future
  • Confusion between primary and secondary sources (e.g. a primary source is someone you're interviewing or direct documentation, a secondary would be one already cited by other media or material found by a third party)
  • Plagiarism being a slap-on-the-wrist offense when it's actually pretty much a career-ending one for most reporters.
  • The plagiarist as Karma Houdini in or after The Noughties
  • Outdated technology being used by a reporter or newsroom that would have no legitimate reason for using it (e.g. no one after late in The Nineties would be using a typewriter)


Specific tropes on this index would be (again, needs more, this is just a skeleton):
  • Da Editor - when depicted as the sole person in charge of a media outlet
  • Intrepid Reporter - When they're depicted as a Lone Reporter or get far more involved in the story than real reporters do.
  • Hot Reporter / Hot Scoop when the "hotness" takes away from her professional capabilities or ESPECIALLY her ability to work (for example, putting a battlefield war correspondent in stiletto heels and a micro mini skirt)
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome: A result of journalists mistaking themselves for entertainment writers.
  • One-Hour Work Week when applied to professional journalists: reporting is not usually an easy job with very low time requirements.
    • Even if the job description is originally "easy," unforeseen events may make it very difficult or busy. Just ask the writers who probably thought writing for Time Out Tokyo would just be nightlife reviews or such - and who ended up doing award-winning and vital coverage of the 3-11 2011 earthquake.
  • School Newspaper News Hound - When they have an "absurdly elaborate school paper with production values and writing quality that real commercial newspapers would envy" or "report about events around the city or town that the story is set in" (instead of just the school they attend).
    • Occasionally but not commonly Truth in Television in regard to college newspapers: as long as the city or town events were of major note or have impact on the college itself, they may well be covered - but this is a rarity and does NOT happen for high school or middle school.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: While still *possibly* applicable to papers due to the time between publication and events happening after publication, and arguably occurs on a meta version with "entertainment" and "fluff" stories getting more attention, the worst cases of this are often averted with "wall to wall" coverage at least at the beginning of a truly major disaster or war or world event now.

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