Rediscovering Narrative: A Cultural History of Journalistic Storytelling in American Newspapers, 1969-2001
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This dissertation analyzes the expansion of narrative journalism and the institutional change in the American newspaper industry in the last quarter of the 20th century. In doing so, it offers the first institutionally-situated history of narrative journalism’s evolution from the New Journalism of the 1960s to longform literary journalism in the 1990s. This analysis shows that the New Journalism, contrary to popular beliefs, did indeed have a significant impact on daily news production in American newspapers. Yet, this study also demonstrates that the evolution of narrative techniques in late twentieth century American journalism was more nuanced, more purposeful and more institutionally based than the New Journalism myth suggests. When editors and journalists adapted narrative journalism in daily newspaper between the 1960s and the early 2000s, they responded to a variety of cultural and institutional influences and then developed a narrative news logic to mediate and channel these influences. Eventually, narrative journalism took shape as a distinct “cultural form of news,” adding a novel way of reporting and writing the news in daily newspapers. This dissertation examines how narrative innovations took hold in American newspapers and how in turn the production logic of newspapers affected narrative conventions. Relying on archival research, oral history interviews and textual analysis, this study traces and analyzes the emergence of narrative journalism in American newspapers between the 1960s and the 1990s. A combination of individual efforts and institutional initiatives changed newsroom cultures, fostered an interpretive community and created rituals, establishing an alternative way of reporting and writing the news in American newspapers. This work offers a nuanced description of how a new set of institutions, norms, processes, and actors emerged in journalism and how this novel news regime shaped the attitudes and practices of media producers and consumers in the late 20th century.