Key to Pulitzer Prize Stories: Emotion

Writing in the Conversation journal, journalism professor Karin Wahl-Jorgensen did an interesting analysis on the recent Pulitzer Prize-winning stories. The key to the best stories: Emotion.

Here’s a clip:

My research reveals something surprising: What distinguishes Pulitzer Prize-winning stories is not only painstaking journalistic work on important social issues, but also the use of emotional storytelling.

This is surprising because U.S. journalism has long championed its objectivity. And because objectivity tends to be seen as emotionless, emotional storytelling tends to be viewed as anathema to good journalism.

The winning stories, however, upend this narrative, showing that it’s possible to retain objectivity and also stir the feelings of readers.

he Associated Press won the coveted Public Service Pulitzer last year for a series exposing the grueling labor conditions in the seafood industry. The series opened with the experience of Burmese slaves forced to work in Indonesia:

“The Burmese slaves sat on the floor and stared through the rusty bars of their locked cage, hidden on a tiny tropical island thousands of miles from home. Just a few yards away, other workers loaded cargo ships with slave-caught seafood that clouds the supply networks of major supermarkets, restaurants and even pet stores in the United States. But the eight imprisoned men were considered flight risks – laborers who might dare run away. They lived on a few bites of rice and curry a day in a space barely big enough to lie down, stuck until the next trawler forces them back to sea.”

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