ERIC Number: ED217464
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Jul
Reference Count: 0
The Feature Story as Mythological Artifact.
Shapiro, Stephanie Ann
In the United States, where printed literature is the primary vehicle of myth, the journalist plays a critical role as creator and perpetuator of myth through the narrative form. Narratives of fiction or fact express the traditions and metaphors of a particular culture and transform archetypal myths into myths unique to that culture. A comparison of American cultural myths with newspaper feature stories reveals their shared qualities of a sense of timelessness, repetitiousness, and reaffirmation of the values that define and direct cultural conduct. The realism of feature stories recasts abiding myths in contemporary form. From examples drawn from the "Washington Post," one can observe that the journalist neither establishes nor recharts mythic consciousness, but fulfills the social obligations established for the myth. Although a feature story may depict a world alien to that of its readers, their values are generally upheld rather than disputed by the depiction. Feature stories, like all popular art, are designed to sell, and thus conform to popular values and images. Several critics contend that the audience's need for myth is exploited by the press and leads to deceptive reporting. They also cite a disparity between newspaper stories and the actual experiences of those who read them. But their cultural analysis only stresses the role of the newspaper as a disseminator of information and overlooks its equally vital role as a medium through which national mythology is celebrated and reaffirmed. As the link between myth and the feature story emerges through illustration, so does the inescapable role of the journalist as myth-maker. (Author/HOD)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Feature Stories
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism (65th, Athens, OH, July 25-28, 1982).