The new, old journalism: Narrative writing in contemporary newspapers

Jane Johnston*, Caroline Graham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


While there is a significant literature on the rise of narrative journalism in daily newspapers, mostly from the United States, few studies have investigated the breakdown of newswriting styles in the front end of the newspaper, with a specific focus on the use of narrative techniques. This study investigates the writing styles of two daily metropolitan print newspapers in order to provide some concrete data on narrative news reporting in Australia. In a sense, it responds to Mark Kramer's comment in 2000 that "no one has added up the reallocated column inches to quantify this change." The research analyses 5000 articles from the news sections of broadsheets The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald in 2007 and 2009 to determine a breakdown of writing styles. It found that narrative writing styles had decreased over the two-year period, claiming almost one-fifth of stories in 2007 but less than one-sixth in 2009. It also brings to the discussion in-depth interviews with leading newspaper editors and journalists. The study represents part of a longer-term trend analysis, to provide ongoing insights into print newspapers within the changing media landscape.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-533
Number of pages17
JournalJournalism Studies
Issue number4
Early online date11 Nov 2011
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


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