A lot of writers, particularly those who write murder mysteries or conspiracies, used to be either law enforcement or journalists.
A lot of writers have a background in journalism like I have. Some work for major newspapers or did, and after the first bestseller retired to write more.
But reading newspaper accounts of events, no matter what the subject, somehow takes on the persona of a good story. It has to if it wants to engage the reader.
There are elements of truth, there are elements of conjecture, and all the while you have to wonder, can this all possibly be true?
What’s that old journalistic adage my editor once told me? Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
My aspirations of a Pulitzer prize died right there.
Perhaps it’s true.
But for just one minute, let’s examine a possibility or two about the news. Does it depend on the journalist’s personal feelings, or if not, the view of the editorial staff, who sometimes rewrite a piece to suit a certain editorial slant?
Let’s say we don’t like the current President. Nothing that is written will be positive, though it will generally stick to the facts, and make them work towards a particular end.
Let’s say we like the current President, and what he’s doing. We will take the facts and write a glowing piece about all the good he is doing. There is no doubt that the story will ignore certain facts that might seem detrimental.
Then there’s the other story, with all the negatives, and a very different picture can be painted.
No one seems to want to sit on the fence.
I once watched a show called Braindead when alien ants from outer space came to earth and started eating parts of brains. It happened to be in Washington, it happened to eat politician’s brains, and it exacerbated the animosity between the Democrats and the Republicans. It was very funny, but who knew it was dead right about the parties, and it’s leaders, brains half-eaten or not.
They should air it again in this current political brinkmanship climate to show everyone just how Washington politics works, or in reality, doesn’t work.
Then there’s fake news. What is fake news exactly?
Using the wrong facts? Painting a white sheep black? Or just reporting one side of the story? Or is it ‘don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story’?
As a writer, I now view the newspapers as the number one resource for finding plots, conspiracies, and just plain oddities, mainly because the truth, if it is the truth, really is stranger than fiction.