Nothing but the Facts? Exploring the discursive space for storytelling and truth-seeking in journalism

Jan Boesman*, Irene Costera Meijer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper seeks to understand how journalists deal with storytelling and truth-seeking in their daily news practice. While storytelling is usually studied through texts, we approached it from a practice perspective, combining data from three ethnographic studies in which 36 beat reporters and 13 journalistic storytelling experts were extensively interviewed. Because of the emphasis journalists place on “finding out the truth” in public discourses, it is tempting for academics to present them as naive truth-seekers. However, by means of an interpretative repertoire analysis of their “practice” discourses, we seek to enlarge the discursive space to talk about the supposed tension between story and reality. Although departing from the idea that all news making is storytelling, the interviewed journalists consider news making and storytelling as distinct—and sometimes opposing—practices. These professional practices serve as the framework around which five storytelling repertoires are organized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)997-1007
Number of pages11
JournalJournalism Practice
Issue number8
Early online date10 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2018


This article is part of the research project, “The New News Consumer: User-Based Innovation to Meet Paradigmatic Change in News Use and Media Habits”, supported by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) [314-99-103] and 10 Dutch journalism organizations (see

FundersFunder number
10 Dutch journalism organizations
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek314-99-103


    • news making
    • storytelling
    • truth
    • journalistic practices
    • news ethnography
    • interpretative repertoires


    Dive into the research topics of 'Nothing but the Facts? Exploring the discursive space for storytelling and truth-seeking in journalism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this