This dissertation proposes an original contribution to knowledge in two ways. First, it proposes that journalism can enable fiction. It also does so through methodology used to test that proposition. This is in the form of the Journalist- Novelist Analytical Model (JNAM).
In considering journalists who become novelists, the study explores how forms of writing in journalism and fiction relate to and influence each other. Five Australian novelists are used as case studies in identifying journalism's impacts on fiction. They are: Marcus Clarke; George Johnston; Olga Masters; Susan Johnson and Robert Drewe.
Print journalism is the focus of the thesis. However, newspaper and magazine journalism share important characteristics with broadcast journalism such as storytelling, news judgment and interaction with people, issues and events of public concern.
This thesis asks two inter-related questions. First, it considers why
so many journalists have written novels. Second, it explores whether journalism can enable fiction. From 1830, when Australia's first novel by former convict Hugh Savery was published, to 2003 nearly 300 novelists have performed journalistic work. This journalism-fiction nexus is mirrored in the United Kingdom and in the United States, where Fedler (2000: 226) speculates "hundreds or even thousands" of novelists started as reporters.
In seeking answers to the two core questions, five research questions are proposed. They ask whether novelists who have worked journalistically are likely to:
1. have been practised writers who have obtained payment for forms of writing other than in journalism and fiction;
2. base their fiction on experience and direct observation rather than imagination;
3. produce readable prose in fiction because of their journalistic focus on what is perceived to appeal to most readers;
4. have been attracted to fiction as a method of self-expression journalism could not satisfy;
5. be seen by publishers as potential novelists because of their media contacts and experience and public profiles as journalists.
These research questions are tested through:
1. a survey of novelists with journalistic experience;
2. interviews with journalist-novelists;
3. a readability study involving 20 novelists and 60 novels;
4. a creativity study involving 16 journalism students tested over 10 weeks;
5. the three-tier JNAM that examines the origins and development
of newspapers and novels from 1850 to 2002;
6. quantitative listings of fiction writers with journalistic experience;
7. an examination of 16 exemplary texts; and
8. five case studies focussing on exemplary authors' journalism and fiction.
The dissertation is presented in three sections. The first provides an historical overview of newspapers and novels, from England in the 18th century to Australia from 1850 to 2002. Through the JNAM it
identifies overlapping cultural, economic and technological influences that shaped the practices of journalists and novelists and the functions of newspapers and novels. The second section addresses occupational issues in journalism that inform transitions to other writing forms. The final section has chapters on the exemplary novelists. The thesis concludes that journalism, with significant qualifications, can enable fiction.