What does a Pulitzer Prize winner think about the current challenges faced by journalism? M.L. Elrick won the most important journalistic award in the USA for his stores about local politics in Detroit. For him, the most important thing in a story are the facts.
“Always let the facts get in the way of a good story,” Elrick said.
But what happens to the so-called phenomenon of “post truth,” when the facts are replaced by credible lies? For Elrick, the answer is to continue working to find the truth, since a story that affects people cannot go unnoticed, especially with the rise of populisms and authoritarian governments. For him, journalists’ main tool is solid evidence and well-reported facts. There will be people who do not believe them, but inevitably, there will be another part of the citizenry that will react.
But facts coldly communicated will not help. It is important to build a narrative where the facts are present, but counted in an attractive way for the audience. And combined with emotion, but as a complementary element and in a balanced way.
Talking with Elrick about these issues helped us understand that to face these threats to democracy, the press is very important. But it is not the only thing. It is necessary to have a citizenship that reacts, that protests, that mobilizes. Because without that, a good story will only remain on paper.