Longform Articles: Learning to “Tell Stories” in Details about People or Events

Report, feature, obituary and press documentary are some of the new journalistic genres successfully learned by the School of Advanced Journalism students at the course dedicated to longform articles. The course lasted five days and it was held by Alina Radu, director of “Ziarul de Gardă” newspaper. Young people tested their observation skills, attended an event, made a detailed character sketch and learned writing obituaries.

The course began with a general presentation of the journalistic genres that fall under the category of longform articles. Students found out about different types of reports, learned the principles and structure of such materials, and the trainer drew their attention to the fact that the most important – and mandatory – element of a report is the journalist’s presence on the scene of events. Alina Radu also mentioned that, unlike news stories, reports allow the journalist to use various literary techniques to describe the atmosphere clearly and with plenty of details. “Readers should see, hear and feel,” she said. Then, the practical part of the course followed, and students had to make a report, a character sketch and an obituary.

How are ideas for reports “born”? Where can we find topics? How can we write in a different, interesting and captivating manner? To help students find answers to these questions, Alina Radu invited two journalists specialized in writing reports and character sketches to a meeting with students. The guests were Polina Cupcea, one of the founders of the “People and Kilometers” web portal, and Dorin Galben, a presenter for 10 TV station. They had both successfully studied at the School of Advanced Journalism, and now they shared with students interesting details from their professional experience, discussed about the way an idea turns into the topic of a report and noted the importance of observation and of details.

Polina Cupcea, who specializes in longreads – articles written in the storytelling technique, – mentioned that a report or a character sketch should be written in a simple language, but attractive to the public. “The topic should be as exotic and picturesque as possible, and also different from what others have written. Get away from the ordinary, go to villages, talk to simple people. They are the most important source of ideas for your stories,” the journalist said.

The next course for SAJ students is Media Law.