September 6, 2005
I was sitting at Poynter’s library when somebody approached me and asked if I’m the journalist from the Philippines who’s interested in narrative journalism. I said yes. The man invited me to sit with him on the sofa. He borrowed my pen and notepad and started drawing lines on the paper.
You must distinguish between a report and a story. A report deals with information while a story deals with experience. A report “points you there” while a story “puts you there.” A report answers the 5Ws and 1H. In a story “who” becomes the character, “what” answers what happened, “where” becomes the setting, “when” is the chronology of events, “why” becomes the motive and “how” tells how it happened. Quotes become dialogues in a narrative.
It was a short exchange of ideas. It was a short introduction to narrative journalism. The man stood up and congratulated me on my book, “Into the Mountain.” He also said there’s a Jose Torres who’s a famous prizefighter. I said he might be a relative a hundred years ago. The man said, maybe four centuries ago and laughed.
He held out his hand and wished me good luck in my journey and my interest in journalism. I said thank you then he left.
I went back to my computer and logged on the Poynter website. I searched for “narrative journalism” and an article with the man’s picture on it came out. It was only then that I learned that the man who talked to me was Dr. Roy Peter Clark, vice-president of Poynter and senior scholar at the institute teaching reporting, writing and editing.
He and Chip Scanlan are two of my favorite Poynter writers I read only in the internet.