Duluth Immersion Journal’s Mission
Context as to why I am doing this
Let me preface this by introducing myself. My name is Max Reagan. I am a senior at the University of Minnesota — Duluth. Over the last four years I have been studying English and Journalism. I consider myself a writer of sorts. Growing up I always loved reading books, especially fiction. It has been a hobby and passion of mine to read and write fiction. However, when I came to college, I wanted to write more than just made up stories. Many of my favorite fiction writers were also journalists, such as Ernest Hemingway, Upton Sinclair, Stephen Crane, John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, etc. Like them, I also wanted to be a journalist.
When I took my first journalism class and was assigned my first stories, I had a habit of writing it like I would a short story. Usually in first person with long and creative sentences. My professor would comment saying I was placing myself in the story too much and that journalism is written in third person with short precise sentences. When I would ask why does it matter, he would tell me that it is not objective. I never argued with him. I simply learned the proper way to write to write a piece of journalism. Writing in third person, present tense, using a nutgraf, and trimming my sentences.
However, I always wondered what he meant when he said it is not objective. Personally, I saw objectivity as having nothing to do with the style a story is written in, but what the writer chooses to include and exclude from the story. To me, a news story written in third person could be considered just as subjective as a news story written in first person. It didn’t make sense to me.
In addition, I was disappointed to find out that it is frowned upon for a reporter to include himself in the story. It didn’t make sense to me. Isn’t the reporter just as much a part of a story as the people involved? Without the reporter, there is no story. It was all confusing to me, but I let it go and conformed my writing to the journalistic standards.
It was then about a year ago that I was assigned to read A Walk in a Workhouse by Charles Dickens in one of my English classes. By reading the bio on Dickens, I found out that he himself was also a journalist. A Walk in a Workhouse was actually a piece of journalism describing the living conditions of a workhouse in London in the 1850’s. I was blown away by Dickens’s style. It read just like one of his short stories. He was a character in his story, it was written in first person, and it was extremely descriptive and stylized. The story was effective and immersed me in that time and place more than any other piece of journalism I have ever read.
I then began to read work by authors such as Hunter S. Thompson and Thomas Wolfe. I researched them and their views on journalism, objectivity, and their New Journalism movement. Why don’t more people write news like this? I thought to myself, It is so beautiful and feels so real. None of my journalism classes ever talked about New Journalism or Literary Journalism. I wondered why these were excluded from the conversation.
Flash forward to the start of this school year. I was assigned a project to create an entrepreneurial and journalistic product fulfilling some sort of information gap. Well, I thought this was a perfect opportunity for me to learn more about literary journalism and how to write it.
The idea to me was simple. Create a literary journalism outlet for the Duluth area. A place to read and publish longer, more creative and alternative forms of journalism (something that does not exist here in Duluth). I didn’t know if this would be a product that people would be interested in, but I still wanted to do it. I wanted to give people the opportunity to learn that journalism doesn’t have to be so strict. It can be written in a number of ways. This was a community idea. I wanted journalists and non-journalists to partake in creating their own stories in their own way. To immerse themselves in an event with the people there and create a story that immerses the reader in that story. But more than anything else I wanted to learn more of this style of journalism that was largely absent in my classrooms.
This website that you are on is the project. This is what the fruits of my labor have created. I hope you enjoy it and I hope you will create your own stories.