Truthful or engaging? Surpassing the dilemma of reality versus storytelling in journalism

T. Groot Kormelink, I. Costera Meijer

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Storytelling is hyped as an instrument to attract audiences, but its potential to engage simultaneously makes it a source of criticism and concern. The debate seems stuck between what the profession of journalism is supposed to be about (facts, objectivity, truth-telling), and the way these ideals are threatened by the trend of engaging users. In this article we explore how it is possible that the discussion about journalism and storytelling seems to have made little progress over many decades. The problem, we argue, is that the discussion appears to take place in the same discursive space, but in actuality takes its cues from several distinctive repertoires, which are in themselves coherent and make sense but when played off against each other create false oppositions that do little justice to the arguments made on both sides. We will try to open up and enlarge the discursive space to talk about storytelling in the context of journalism by showing how both terms function differently in seven distinct repertoires. This maneuver should enable us to move forward the analysis, the value, the function, and the conceptual development of journalistic storytelling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-174
JournalDigital Journalism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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