Literary Journalism


New Journalism: “Annals of Crime: In Cold Blood”

Truman Capote

February 25th, 2014  


Unknown-1Truman Garcia Capote was an American author, screenwriter, and playwright. His short stories, novels, and plays of nonfiction are recognized as literary classics. Perhaps his most noted pieces were the nonfictions, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and the true crime novel, “In Cold Blood.”

“In Cold Blood” was published in 1959 and was considered the first successful crime story. It centralized around the crime that took place in Holcomb, Kansas where a wealthy farmer, his wife, and two children were murdered. Capote wrote a 3000-word article about his investigation with the help of his childhood friend, Harper Lee. Before the piece was published Capote and Harper had put together almost 8,000 pages of notes and conducted personal interviews with both criminals responsible for the murders. Unknown-2


The story begins with the victims and later introduces us to the actual perpetrators. Several of the earlier scenes are constructed through a use of dialogue that occurs between the father and his daughter. The intriguing part about the interactions between the later deceased people introduces us to Capote’s style of writing. He wanted to tweak the reality to infiltrate the plot of his story. Ethical issues are brought to our attention through his style of writing are highlighted in the movie that was later produced, True Blood. The ethical concerns about his book that included the lives of deceased but now alive changed his reputation but also gave him his ticket to fame. He had planned the story all along and wanted more than anything for this story to appeal to readers. Capote never actually showed any remorse regarding the fatal tragedy or within his literature. However, when Capote was notified about the execution of both Smith and Hickok he felt accomplished because he knew at that point he could finish his book. Through this piece of journalism the ethical styles of writing become clearer. Truman Capote was able to create masterpiece of crime through a creative and almost manipulating way.








Grab the Bull by the HORN and Read Martha GellHORN’s Master Pieces!

Articles: “Men Without Medals”  & “Night Life in the Sky”

February 14th, 2014                       





Martha Gelhorn was an American novelist, travel writer, and journalist. Gellhorn was considered to be one of the greateswar correspondents of the 20th century who reported on every major world conflict that took place during her career. Coincidently she wed to another well-known journalist, Ernest Hemmingway.                         Unknown-6

Published in Collier’s, The National Weekly, was both Gellhorn’s article, “Men Without Medals” and Ernest Hemmingway’s article “Reports Spain.” The two were featured together in the same issue due to their similarities based on experience. Hemmingway addresses several incidents during the Spanish Civil War through a style of writing that is short of dialogue in lengthy sentences. Gellhorn makes use of dialogue and scene descriptions consistently to contribute to her storytelling.

We were quick to investigate Gellhorn’s style of writing as it was more favorable than Hemmingway’s piece on the Spanish Civil War. Although both Gellhorn and Hemmingway had interviewed the same personit was Gellhorn who was able to created a more vivid and detailed description through dialogue. She was able to paint a scene for her readers which allowed them to be captivated by her story.

Martha Gellhorn’s article, “Men Without Medals,” introduces us to a form of suspense in literary journalism.  In this article she waits till the end of the article to illustrate the meaning of the title. “In this war, there are no rewards you could name. There are no Congressional medals, no Distinguished Service Crosses, no bonuses for soldiers’ families, no newspaper glory. And what you get paid, every day, would buy a soft drink and a pack of cigarettes in America, but no more” (49). “Night Life in the Sky” highlights the personal style of writing Gellhorn uses. The strikingly different styles of dialogue in both articles became most effective for the attention of her readers and the success of each story.




“The New Public”

May 18th, 1927, “Reports from the Mussolini’s Fascist Italy” & January 12, 1938, “The Spanish Civil War Reports”


Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was an American novelist, short story writers, and journalist born in 1899. His distinct style of writing had a significant influence on the development of 20th century fiction. The majority of his work is considered the classics in the canon of American literature.

In the first article, Hemmingway recalls a time when fascists were very popular. He was responsible for the new style of writing, fiction. He established this style by using dialogue, actions, and sense of silence. Fiction reveals nothing crucial or rather leaves out explicit details. “Hemingway was at the crest of a wave of modernists”(Thomas Putnam). It is believed that the way in which we have learned to write about war has stemmed from the great Ernest Hemmingway.

“If a writer prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strong as though the writer had stated them.” (Hemmingway,, 25.12.2002).





“The Shame of the Cities”

Lincoln Stefens & McClure Magazine 

Febrary 14th,2014


           Lincoln Steffens is known for his collection of articles in McClure’s Magazine that he began working on in 1901. When he was given the opportunity to be a managing editor he began to struggle. He was then sent on a particular

Unknown-4assignment to learn how to be an editor.


One of the most complex forms of journalism can be noted in Steffens’ book “The Shame of the Cities.” The book reports on the workings of corrupt political machines in the major United States cities. It was also considered one of the major pieces of muckracking journalism at the time.Steffens’ work was not intended to be an expose about corruption; rather he wanted to draw attention to the public and their reactions to the continuation of corruption. Unknown-3

In his first article titled, “Tweed Days in St. Louis,” Steffens worked with a man named Claude Wetmore, an Ohio native who moved to St. Louis in 1890’s. After his move Wetmore became a city editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch where he emphasized his criticism on city government. The two worked together on one of the first article, “Tweed Days in St. Louis,” which reported the corruption of the city from some of it’s top citizens, merchants and big financiers.

Similar to journalist, Ida Tarbell, who investigated one industry at time such as the Standard Oil Industry, Steffens focused on one city at time that dealt with corruption. In particular, Steffens’ investigative journalism illustrates the findings of unknown facts drawing attention to the responsibility of the public, who are considered part of the problem of corruption. He framed his work in a way that woke up citizens and made them take responsibility for the corruption. Steffen’s style of journalism contrasts with journalist, Jack London who wrote on the behalf of everyday lives of people in poverty. Both Stefens and Tarbell focused on individuals to construct a story. On page 17 of Steffens’ article he writes, “I’m a reporter not a scientist.” By that we can understand his writing as a form of literary journalism. His investigative work may present several inaccurate facts whereas a scientist makes sure to be as accurate a possible.


The History of the Standard Oild Industry    

February 7th, 2014

ida1jIda M. Tarbell is a well-recognized American teacher, author, and journalist during the muckrakers’ era. Muckrakers were journalists who wrote for popular magazines that introduced a new tradition of investigating and reporting stories in journalism. Ida Tarbell is most popular for her notable magazine series and biographies produced over time. In 1999 she was most remembered for her appearance on a list of the 100 works of journalism in the 20th century.

Her work as a literary journalist can be found in one of her most famous pieces, “The History of the Standard Oil Industry.” Her investigation on the issue began in the 1900’s where she illustrated a historical period in a variety of writing techniques. She used different elements of literary journalism to instill her story through the inner workings of John D. Rockefeller. She used a variety of sources to illustrate her story; newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, private correspondents, stats, reports, and interviews with people who had experienced the issue first hand.

Tarbell’s focus in the preface of “The History of the Standard Oil Industry” demonstrated how her well reported information, described a large issue in a non-emotional way. In part I. of

In  “McClure’s Magazine” Tarbell’s article is describes as an expose of the Standard Oil Unknown-1Company run by one of the world’s richest men, John Rockefeller. The story is told in an a chronologically ordered fashion. Tarbell’s goal for her story was to produce a narrative about the process of monopolization, corruption, and fostering sustainability. In this magazine article, the issue presents more factual information and leaves out personal viewpoints. The content in the article emphasizes a more journalistic style, with generic and safe language for readers. Tarbell’s style of writing is structured in a way that she wanted the main focus to be on the actual story. Different elements and stylistics of writing can often distract a reader from the actual content of the story. The format of the article is writing in chapters. There were several pictures placed throughout the text, which generated a foggy read. It is obvious that there is a lack of dialogue and the story becomes linear, which is another style of writing that Tarbell uses.


Journalist: Jack London 

Preface & Chapters 1, 2, & 4

February 7th, 2014 

“The People of the Abyss” is an example of literary work published by American abyss158222authorand journalist, Jack London. London was a pioneer in the burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first writers to become famous around the world and profit a large fortune. During the Gold Rush period London became well-known for both his work, “Call of the Wind,” and “White Thing.”

Unknown-2      In his book titles “The People of the Abyss,” London focuses on the daily lives of the people living in the slums of east London. In article from the Victorian Web it states, “The metaphor “abyss” with reference to the East End slums was not invented by London. It had earlier already circulated in public discourse and literature.” London provides first hand accounts from various places where he experience the contemporary London poor. The east end of London was an area largely overcrowded by poor civilians and immigrants. As a journalist he creates a specific tone his book through different structured relationships, using dialogue as type of characterization.

In chapter one, London describes his trip to London where he first talks to police officers who mock him about his travel plans. On page 5 and 6 London structures sentences who clarify who is speaking while giving additional information about the mood and actions occurring at the time of his travel. There is a interesting sense of interruption through dialogue which is generally not apart of real journalism. As a literary journalist, he is trying to describe an unknown area – trying to reveal something we know and no one else does. In order to write from his experiences he puts himself in the shoes of the contemporary poor but makes it clear that he is still trying to protect himself. London at the time has the tendency to be pragmatic about the people of Abyss.

There are several socialist views that are recognized throughout his piece. London’s narrative depicts a more modern style of journalism verse several other readings. The People of the Abyss is a compelling book that offers today’s readers plenty to think about the people submerged in abysmal slums, the culture of poverty and social enslavement in the late Victorian period.evicted460 A strong desire to rouse the public conscience and implement urgent and effective reforms permeates London’s narrative which is both a valuable literary work and a serious sociological study. London’s slum narrative contributed to the growth of the investigative journalism of the American muckrakers in the early 20th century” (Dr Andrzej Diniejko).


Michel Chevalier

Literary Work: ”Lowell XI” & “The Factory Girls XII.” 

January 31st, 2014


The book, “Society Manners & Politics in the United States,” consisted of several different letters composed by author, Michel Chevalier. Chevalier used his own personal experiences, observations, lasting impressions, and speculations to focus on different institutions during his time in the United States. In 1834 the French government sent him to the United States to observe American institutions. There, Chevalier focused on different industries, transportation, structure of class, communication, and democracy.

michel chevalierChevaliers letter about Lowell Massachusetts highlights his ability as literary journalist. In both letters “XI Lowell” and  “XII The Factory Girls” Chevalier creates a descriptive narrative to construct a visual image of Lowell. In some ways he portrays a “spy” of communication and his journalistic style focuses more on content than form. Chevalier uses Lowell as a representation or as the “poster child” of what America will be about.

“The Factory Girls XII” reveals a poetic side of Chevalier’s journalism. His viewpoints of machines in the factory are believe to liberate the man. At the point gender equalities are important to his beliefs in how relationships will play out in the future to come. Chevalier’s observations of a foreign culture accompany tools of literary journalism. He compares and contrasts both the American and English culture to the French culture. More so the depth of Chevalier’s observations, rather than explicit detail, are evident in both letters making him a literary journalist.


The Fuggin Newsletters Will Make You Go Illiterate!

“The Fugger Newsletters,” Victor Klarwill 

January 23rd, 2013

Unknown-1  The elements of literary journalism include a variety of techniques constructed through, dramatics scenes, specificity, vivid detail, and reported information. Literary journalism is described in a way that it is more expressive than the modern works of journalism. Basic dialogue in literary journalism is the equivalence to quotations in basic journalism. Literary work from the 15th century is known for the absence of punctuation and format such as paragraphs.


       Our first reading is one of the first pieces of literary journalism published,“The Fugger Newsletters.” The Fugger family was a wealthy family from Augsburg, Germany and was one the most influential families known during the 16th century. Their wealth stemmed Unknownfrom different banking practices. During their time of success the family consistently recorded several letters scribed by their own employees both merchants and diplomats. The letters’ content varied from politics and economics that inevitably introduced a form of a modern journalism.

The first letter we looked at, “Execution of Count Egmont and Count horn in Brussels,” is believed to be what started this evolution of literary journalism. Though the letters were not written with the intent of journalism, they do not read as a modern day story, following the inverted pyramid format. What the letters do is give a chronological account of the things happening at the time.

However, “The Fugger Newsletters” highlight some of the most basic styles of literary journalism. The letters included, descriptive scenes, basic facts, and gossip. Several writers used specific narration that allowed readers to understand the chronology behind different events through detailed descriptions of particular settings, actions, and people in the story. For example in the second paragraph of the first letter, narrative form begins to imagesshape the style of literary Journalism. “He carried himself bravely, though his face looked melancholy and afflicted. He held his cloak before his mouth, thrown over his shoulder, and looked around him.” This particular narrative contrasts with the style of classic journalism and rather makes a connection with a reader through a certain emotion.

The form of dialogue is short and choppy in contrast to the style of journalism today. There are several instances where dialogue such as, “he said” appear which make it a style of literary journalism. Although there is not a large difference in literary journalism it is obvious that in order for a journalist to be valuable to a reader, the basic tools of journalism are essential to actual events that occurred and to whom.


St. Lawrence University