Features of virtue

Exploring the common virtues of award-winning feature writing to analyse how journalists make us feel something when we read their work.

Did I underestimate the emotional storm that these stories would plunge me into? Absolutely.

I’d naively thought I could nonchalantly place myself in the hands of gifted writers telling honest stories that transported me into worlds where crimes went unpunished, where children were beaten and killed, where Indigenous Australians were abused and discarded and where our ability as a nation to refuse to see how our government policies were causing real harm to real people. I was wrong. And the moment I understood that the storm was the point, I began to appreciate how each story was a boat captained by a writer who I had to trust would get me back to dry land. Safe, yes. But also changed by the journey. I started to see and feel, sometimes subtly and at other times with the force of a wave dunking me, how the journalists used their writing and reporting skills to leave me awash with emotion. I saw how they pulled different narrative levers, shifting between first, second and third-person voice, constructing vivid scenes, inserting electrifying quotes and seeding their stories with forensic details.

  • responsibility (in all 23)
  • resilience (in 20)
  • empathy (in 19)
  • courage (in 15)
  • phronesis (in 14).

Email / LinkedIn / Twitter: @DocJenMartin

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