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"Dejo afuera las partes que la gente se saltea"

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Ya he hablado alguna vez de mi admiración por Charlie LeDuff, “uno de esos cronistas que encuentran las historias más raras y las cuentan de la manera más atrapante”.

Dicho y hecho: el recomendable Narrative Digest de la fundación Nieman en Harvard, que selecciona piezas narrativas interesantes de todo tipo de publicaciones, destacó en marzo una nota de LeDuff sobre un cadáver que yacía en medio de un charco congelado de hielo en un depósito abandonado de Detroit.

El Digest señalaba que no hace falta que una nota sea larga para que sea narrativa. Lo importante es la voz, la atención al detalle y, sobre todo, contar una historia.

En verdad, incluso una sola oración bien trabajada es una narrativa, con un  sustantivo que le da sujeto y un verbo que provee no sólo el predicado, sino también un problema, un pequeño drama. Así y todo, nos sorprende siempre cuán pocas narrativas cortas, escritas con elegancia, nos envían para evaluar.

In truth, even a single well-crafted sentence is a narrative, its noun giving it a subject and its verb providing not just a “predicate,” but a predicament, a little drama. Yet, we are always surprised at how few elegantly crafted short narratives are submitted to us for consideration.

[Constance Hale, comentando la pieza de LeDuff en el Rincón del editor]

LeDuff explica mejor que nadie la importancia de saber escribir “corto”, que –muchos coincidirán– es más difícil que escribir “largo”.

En una entrevista sobre la nota, dice:

La sociedad moderna no tiene mucho tiempo ni gusto para las historias largas en las páginas de noticias: la mayoría de los lectores están distraídos, twitterizados. Las narrativas largas casi se han extinguido y no tienen sentido en términos de dólares y centavos para los diarios de hoy.

Menos palabras exigen más precisión, destilar los detalles. Es difícil escribir corto.

Yo trato de escribir con estas reflexiones en mente:

“Dejo afuera las partes que la gente se saltea”.
– Elmore Leonard

“Te iba a escribir una carta corta pero no tenía tiempo, así que te escribí una larga.”
— Mark Twain

Modern society hasn’t much time or taste for the long wind-up in the news pages: the mass of readers are distracted, Twitter-fied. Long narratives are almost extinct and don’t make dollars and cents sense for today’s daily papers. Less words requires more precision, a distillation of detail. It’s difficult to go short.

I try to write with these thoughts in mind:

“I leave out the parts that people skip.”
– Elmore Leonard

“I was going to write you a short letter but I didn’t have the time, so I wrote you a long one instead.”
— Mark Twain

Press Publish
Nieman Lab
Genre: Journalism
Price: Get
Publish Date: April 4, 2013

Press Publish is a weekly conversation about journalism, technology, and the media business. The Nieman Journalism Lab is a project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard to help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age. The Internet has brought forth an unprecedented flowering of news and information. But it has also destabilized the old business models that have supported quality journalism for decades. Good journalists across the country are losing their jobs or adjusting to a radically new news environment online. We want to highlight attempts at innovation and figure out what makes them succeed or fail. We want to find good ideas for others to steal. We want to help reporters and editors adjust to their online labors; we want to help traditional news organizations find a way to survive; we want to help the new crop of startups that will complement — or supplant — them. The Nieman Lab is fundamentally optimistic. They don’t pretend to have even five percent of all the answers, but we do know a lot of smart people. Primary among them are our readers; we hope your contributions will make the Lab a collaborative exchange of ideas. Tell us what’s happening around you, or what should be.

2013 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

From Watergate to Wikileaks
Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard
Genre: Communications & Media
Price: Get
Publish Date: January 6, 2011

The WikiLeaks Iraq and Afghanistan war logs—and now the roll out of diplomatic cables—are having an enormous impact on journalism. On December 16, 2010, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism convened a group of reporters and editors along with other watchdog experts for a one-day conference. “From Watergate to WikiLeaks: Journalism and Secrecy in the New Media Age” explored how secrets are investigated, shared and filtered (or not) in an era of self-publishing, online whistle-blowing, data mining and social media websites. Participants discussed journalism’s role—what it traditionally has been and what it can or should be in this new environment.

2010 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Press Publish
Nieman Lab
Genre: Journalism
Price: Get
Publish Date: April 4, 2013

Press Publish is a weekly conversation about journalism, technology, and the media business. The Nieman Journalism Lab is a project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard to help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age. The Internet has brought forth an unprecedented flowering of news and information. But it has also destabilized the old business models that have supported quality journalism for decades. Good journalists across the country are losing their jobs or adjusting to a radically new news environment online. We want to highlight attempts at innovation and figure out what makes them succeed or fail. We want to find good ideas for others to steal. We want to help reporters and editors adjust to their online labors; we want to help traditional news organizations find a way to survive; we want to help the new crop of startups that will complement — or supplant — them. The Nieman Lab is fundamentally optimistic. They don’t pretend to have even five percent of all the answers, but we do know a lot of smart people. Primary among them are our readers; we hope your contributions will make the Lab a collaborative exchange of ideas. Tell us what’s happening around you, or what should be.

2013 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

UC graduate wins Fellowship to Harvard

Anna Fifield Anna Fifield Anna Fifield

A University of Canterbury (UC) high-achieving journalism graduate has won a prestigious Nieman Fellowship to Harvard University.

Anna Fifield (class of 1997), White House correspondent for the Financial Times of London, will study how change occurs in closed societies, focusing on Iran and the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring and looking at the commonalities between revolutions.

Fifield says studying at UC provided her with a great foundation in journalism that has helped her tackle any challenge she has faced over the last 15 years.

I still use the tricks of the trade I learned during the UC programme,“ she says. "I’m honoured to be accepted into the Nieman class to build on what I learned during my year at UC.’’

Prior to her posting to Washington, Fifield was the newspaper’s Middle East correspondent, and before that worked for the former New Zealand Press Association.

She is one of 24 journalists - reporters, editors, columnists and digital media leaders - who work around the globe and across media platforms offered the Harvard Fellowship.

Nieman Foundation curator Ann Marie Lipinski says they are extraordinary journalists who have much to offer each other and the broader Harvard community interested in journalism.

The Nieman Fellows study with some of the world’s leading scholars and experts in disciplines ranging from business and law to public policy and the natural sciences.

The last New Zealand Nieman Fellow was broadcaster Sharon Crosbie in 1985.

Press Publish - Nieman Lab | Journalism |592788196: Press Publish
Nieman Lab
Genre: Journalism
Price: Get
Publish Date: April 4, 2013

Press Publish is a weekly conversation about journalism, technology, and the media business. The Nieman Journalism Lab is a project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard to help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age. The Internet has brought forth an unprecedented flowering of news and information. But it has also destabilized the old business models that have supported quality journalism for decades. Good journalists across the country are losing their jobs or adjusting to a radically new news environment online. We want to highlight attempts at innovation and figure out what makes them succeed or fail. We want to find good ideas for others to steal. We want to help reporters and editors adjust to their online labors; we want to help traditional news organizations find a way to survive; we want to help the new crop of startups that will complement — or supplant — them. The Nieman Lab is fundamentally optimistic. They don’t pretend to have even five percent of all the answers, but we do know a lot of smart people. Primary among them are our readers; we hope your contributions will make the Lab a collaborative exchange of ideas. Tell us what’s happening around you, or what should be.

2013 The President and Fellows of Harvard College