Once upon a time, I was a journalist. It was a great profession to learn about story construction, because unlike conventional wisdom, stories do not come in linear and simple little cardboard boxes.
Finding a story in the weave or even a tangle of stories is not as easy as people think.
First, everybody wants to be the hero of the story you are covering. They do not want to be the villain, even if they are villains. The narrative is the coveted prize and people will hire image consultants, lawyers, and public relations firms in their campaign to control it.
Second, facts to unify a single story do not magically appear all at once in some magic box. They are found by searching through documents and people. The harder the information is to find, the more important it is.
Third, there are angles and analysis and there can be more than one that may be suitable.
Journalism is a profession that has those working in it gather information as they hunt for sources.
There are many criticisms levelled at journalists, but not all of the criticisms are without flaw.
Often, a bias accusation is merely someone who takes umbrage that a reporter did not pick the narrative or angle the critic is convinced is reality, not a mere interpretation of it. If a reporter writes a story that sees an issue from the perspective of a middle class person, it is not necessarily a biased or inaccurate piece.
What we have is a constricted system of reportage storytelling.
Imagine we were given free reign to cover a single story from numerous perspectives. Not the “both sides” of an issue, but how one event is interpreted from numerous perspectives as we see the consequences. We follow intersecting lives. We untangle threads and then we weave them.
Social media seems to be an answer, but so much of it is water down and sanitized DIY propaganda. People take photographs of what they are eating, while hiding how much they are embezzling at work.
Journalism does not leave the narrative to the participants, but pulls back to see a bigger picture.
Because journalism is epistolary: it is about gathering memos, transcripts, interviews, and other evidence to find the story.
It is the Matriarchal way of finding the story.
The Matriarchal is all about the gathering. It, like journalism, is epistolary in the way it finds the story. It loosens the grip of the narrative by downplaying its importance in presenting a story. Narrative is a way to control the flow of information by creating angles and shaping the interpretation of reality. The Matriarchal is a raw and feral form of storytelling: it is about truth as it happens.
And because different people have access to different parts of the truth, the emphasis in the Matriarchal is on how different characters are affected by the same core truth and reality.
While the Patriarchal hunts for a single interpretation of truth and reality, the Matriarchal shows how a single truth has different meanings and consequences for different people. We go beyond the narrative: we ride the different wavelengths of different characters to understand our world.
Journalism has a lot in common with the Matriarchal: it is about gathering threads with the understanding not all the threads are known to all involved in the same core event, but may have a greater significance to other people at different times and places.
It is about shifting focus and having a bigger vision than we do with the Patriarchal. It is about embracing the Infinite and being brave enough to expand our horizons with a more sensitive and worldly approach.