The journalistic chronicles are a variety within literary journalism, in which an event is narrated chronologically and in detail, offering an informative assessment of the facts. For example: Journalistic Chronicle of the Twin Towers.
It is a non-fictional episode in which the journalist participated directly. Therefore, a more detailed portrait is expected than in a classic journalistic news, and that can include the personal and subjective view of its author.
Characteristics of the Journalistic Chronicle
- The objective is not only to tell what happened, but to recreate an environment, to give a precise impression from the journalist’s gaze.
- The value judgment is relevant to support the structure of the story and build a journalistic argument.
- The text must have “chronological meaning”, that is, an orderly exposition of the facts, starting with what happened first.
- The chronicle must include:
- All the information that can be collected.
- Verbatim phrases of participants, witnesses, personalities involved in the narrated event.
- A development accompanied by an analysis of the episode.
- Sentences that express feeling and emotion.
- If applicable, ironic or humorous reflections.
- Sustained tension in the story, so that the reader feels involved in what is being told.
Formal Aspects of the Journalistic Chronicle
- The extension may vary, according to the layout possibilities and spatial limitations of the printed page.
- The narration can be in the first person and the journalist becomes the actor of the events narrated, or use a “witness” voice, a spectator of the events.
- Writing should be fine and simple, reflecting the journalist’s culture, powers of observation, and dramatic depth.
How to Write a Journalistic Chronicle?
- Entrance. The beginning should be attractive to attract the attention of the readers. The ideal is to think of a phrase that works as a “hook” and generates interest, anticipating an entertaining note. It is not advisable to start offering too much data, which can overwhelm and lead to abandon reading.
- Data. The text must offer basic information that completes the necessary points to understand and answer the traditional questions (what, who/is, where, when, why).
- Story chronological. The narration of the body of the note must contain the dramatization and climax of the chronicle, with increasing and decreasing actions to be able to handle the tension of the story.
- Final. The closing can include a serif that goes back to the hook that started the text.
Types of Journalistic Chronicles
Depending on the topic they deal with, journalistic chronicles can be:
- Political Chronicles. They are those that portray episodes and actors in the field of public administration. For example, the monitoring of a campaign prior to the elections, proselytizing acts, presidential inauguration, among others, always capturing the environment, moods, characteristics and emotions of the public and other participating actors in these events.
- Legal Chronicles. They are those in which oral trials of great resonance for the general public are reported. For example, when public figures are tried or justice is sought for episodes with a high impact on society. It will seek to portray not only the daily progress of the legal act, but also the testimonies of attendees who yearn for a fair verdict.
- Local/Urban Chronicles. They are those in which the journalist’s gaze rests on aspects of daily life, to paint a portrait of current events before the readers. For example, when describing the lifestyle of the communities that meet somewhere in the city, the glamorous proposals offered for tourism, the carnival, Easter or Christmas festivities, among others.
- Correspondent Chronicles. They are those carried out by a journalist who lives in another country to cover the day-to-day life of a city that he does not know. The author seeks to transmit a foreign experience for compatriot readers who are unaware of the habits and culture of those countries. For example, these chronicles are frequent before international shows such as soccer world cups or Olympics, award ceremonies and festivals. They are items that complement the central note, providing an entertaining touch and, generally, with a humorous tone.
- Travel Chronicles. They are those in which a tourist place is described with very clear slogans. For example, “The ten best pubs in London” or “The Louvre museum inside”. Its function is to inform but also to generate an entertaining text for readers who will not necessarily visit the place.
- War Correspondent Chronicles. They are those written by an editor who, in the midst of bombs and bullets, covers daily life in a city crossed by a war conflict. It focuses on everyday problems faced by ordinary citizens in the context of war, such as lack of water, alternative livelihoods, the work of doctors and health personnel.
Examples of Journalistic Chronicles
1. The Conquest of America and the End of the Ancient Pre-Columbian World
For almost 10,000 years, different native peoples of America lived without even suspecting that an entire world existed beyond their shores, concerned only with the tensions that arose between them. Entire empires were born and fell, civilizations were lost and powerful monuments were built before the Genoese navigator Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic Ocean for the first time to land on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, on October 12, 1492.
Three boats made up that first European trip to what they called the “West Indies”, believing that they had indeed gone around the world and ended up in Asia. Instead, they found a tropical paradise populated by foreign peoples whom they baptized “Indians” and with whom they quickly established an unequal relationship of exchange: the natural wonders of that mysterious place did not seem very guarded by the friendly Tainos, and in the greedy mentality of the early conquerors, that gave them the right to take everything.
2. World War II: Six Years of Conflict That Changed History Forever
The Second World War (1939-1945) was one of the greatest conflicts in recent human history and the most important of the entire 20th century. In one way or another, not only the great economic and military powers of the time were involved, but also most of the nations on the planet, whether on the side of the Allies (USA, United Kingdom, France and the USSR) or on the side of the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, Japan). The six years that this “total war” lasted forever transformed the political configuration of the planet and left scars that even today, almost 80 years after its end, remain in the collective memory.
Nazi Germany had already shown signs of its territorial ambition, expressed by Adolf Hitler himself in terms of “lebensraum” (“living space”) in his book _”My Struggle (1925), in which he had outlined his political, social, and military plan for Germany, and the latter’s need to seize the territories of the Eastern European nations. With this in mind, on August 23, 1939, the German regime signed a non-aggression pact with Stalin’s Soviet Union, in which —it would come to light much later— they divided up Polish territory and agreed on a new border between their nations.
3. The Fall of the Twin Towers in New York: The Great Terrorist Attack That Began the 21st Century
The first year proper of the 21st century ended that Tuesday, September 11, 2001, with no one in New York or anywhere in the West even suspecting the events that would take place that morning. Events that seem to be taken from a Hollywood movie, but which caused very real and emblematic damage in the heart of the American city: the destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and all its surrounding structures.
That morning, passengers on four separate flights from four US airlines took the small seats inside their planes. American Airlines Flight 11 took off at 8:00 am from Boston Logan International Airport, headed for Los Angeles. It had 92 people on board. From the same airport, but fifteen minutes later, United Airlines flight 175 did the same, with the same destination but with 65 people on board. Both planes were Boeing 767 models, with an average wingspan of 47 meters and a length between 40 and 60 meters.
More examples of journalistic chronicles
- “Into the Wild: The Tragic Journey of Christopher McCandless” by Jon Krakauer. This chronicle explores the life and untimely death of a young man who ventured into the Alaskan wilderness seeking solitude and self-discovery.
- “In the Shadow of War: Reporting from Conflict Zones” by Marie Colvin. The journalist provides firsthand accounts of her experiences reporting from war-torn regions, exposing the harsh realities and human impact of armed conflicts.
- “The Panama Papers: Unveiling Global Corruption” by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). This chronicle reveals the groundbreaking investigation that exposed a vast network of offshore financial activities and their implications for global politics and economy.
- “Behind Closed Doors: Investigating the Dark Side of Hollywood” by Ronan Farrow. The journalist uncovers the systemic abuse and harassment prevalent in the entertainment industry, shining a light on the hidden realities faced by many individuals.
- “Chasing the Storm: Inside Tornado Alley” by Reed Timmer. This chronicle follows the storm-chasing adventures of a meteorologist, providing thrilling firsthand accounts and insights into the world of severe weather research.
- “The Water Crisis: Thirst for Change” by The Guardian. This journalistic chronicle delves into the global water crisis, examining the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to address the scarcity and inequities in access to clean water.
- “Surviving Everest: A Climber’s Journey” by Jon Krakauer. The chronicle recounts the harrowing experiences of climbers attempting to summit Mount Everest, highlighting the risks, challenges, and triumphs they face in the world’s highest mountain.
- “Voices from the Frontlines: Reporting on Humanitarian Crises” by Clarissa Ward. The journalist shares her experiences reporting from conflict zones and humanitarian crises, giving voice to those affected and shedding light on the urgent need for international assistance.
- “Inside Silicon Valley: Unveiling the Tech Titans” by Emily Chang. This chronicle provides an in-depth exploration of the influential tech industry in Silicon Valley, examining its culture, impact on society, and the lives of its key players.
- “Surviving the Amazon: A Journey into the Heart of the Rainforest” by Mark Jenkins. The chronicle follows an expedition deep into the Amazon rainforest, revealing its biodiversity, environmental challenges, and the indigenous communities that call it home.