I’ve been thinking about explanatory journalism lately, for a number of reasons — in part, the one remaining Mystery Project I would mention, obliquely, in the first half of this year (something that remains unresolved but which, I worry, has gone the way of so many promising moments from 2021 that ended up vanishing into the ether before too long), and in part because of something else ongoing right now that may or may not turn into A Thing further down the line.
(Given my experience so far this year, I’m leaning towards “may not,” but I’m willing to be proven wrong on this particular subject.)
It’s also a subject that has been in my head because of the Washington Post massive story on what happened January 6, which goes substantially in-depth and breaks down the story into three sections: before the coup attempt, during it, and afterwards. It’s an impressive piece of work, and somewhat immersive to read due to the amount of research and reporting that clearly went into it, and it’s had me thinking: is this something that I could be doing? Or, really: what are the other ways I can present the stories that I’m working on, to make them more interesting to the reader?
It’s funny; I feel as if I’m dealing with these theoretical issues even though I have no outlet to experiment with right now. (True story: at the start of the year, I fully intended to start my own comics site. And then real life took over, and I had no time to do that. I even bought the domain and hosting!) And yet, I keep thinking about it — finding a way to present massive amounts of information to newcomers without it feeling too mechanical or un-personal, and making it interesting and understandable at the same time.
I’ve been watching For All Mankind lately, and there’s a line in an early episode where one of the engineers says that math is like music — sometimes, that’s how I feel about writing. As if there’s a song I just need to properly remember and then I’ll have the key to whatever problem I’m dealing with.
Not that this was a lead-in for a “key” pun, I hasten to add.