For a time, I contemplated a career as a news reporter, even though my popular contribution to our middle-school newspaper was a monthly series entitled “The Purple People Eaters.” Clearly neither journalistic reporting nor even an original title. (You can check out the inspirational old song for that effort here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9H_cI_WCnE )
That fun mini-series eventually caused a surprising amount of pressure since after about three episodes, I was running out of ideas for my alien characters and classmates frequently asked what was going to happen next. I didn’t know but felt compelled to keep going—and kept wondering if reporting straight-up news was an easier avenue for my writing aspirations. Time and experience have shown that neither is easy.
I stuck with fiction, maybe because I get to do what journalists don’t—write a fitting ending. The world can be a messy place with troublesome loose ends and generations can pass before some chronicles conclude. Often, the best journalists can do is give us an account of “what happened”. At other times, they may be able to produce deeper reports that link past influences with present forces and provide us with context to gain broader understanding. And while I recognize that reports of current events (like all recorded history) are to varying degrees filtered accounts, I continue to hold good journalism in high regard. Because despite the very human imperfections of journalists, we need them. We need people with the fire and will and integrity to get out there, ask questions, and report the facts they find to us.
Which is why it’s deeply troubling to see the prevalence of misinformation and blatant attempts by some in powerful places to control the narrative of journalists or denigrate their work with accusations of “Fake News”. Even more horrifying are the increasing incidences of journalists being imprisoned or even murdered for doing their jobs. Time Magazine honored them beautifully by naming “Person of the Year” for 2018 “The Guardians of the Truth”. http://time.com/person-of-the-year-2018-the-guardians/
Long before that article appeared, I knew I needed to look at some aspects of this disturbing trend and Faster Than Truth is the fictional result of my exploration. The story’s teen narrator, Declan, is an aspiring journalist struggling to discover what it means for him to become a contemporary newsperson. I believe he’s in the company of real people who’ve gone before and continue now to strive to inform us. His story will be published May 15, 2019 https://www.crwth.ca/faster-than-truth/