Why I Prefer Writing Fiction Over Journalism

Jun 20, 2024 by S. R. Watts

There is no doubt in my mind that news writing is a very important career field. It is how vital information about events with the power to impact our lives our often communicated to the masses, keeping us up to date on the issues that affect the world around us. The free press has also been described as the fourth branch of government in a free and democratic society, providing a check against government tyranny when nobel journalists are willing to report on the shady practices of corrupt politicians in an effort to hold them accountable to their voting constituents. A lot of good can come from engaging in new writing as long as the people writing the news are honest about what they are reporting.

However, that doesn’t always seem to be the case in our modern world of mass communications. I can’t tell you how many allegations are made by prominent influencers and average people of social media about major news organizations such as The New Your Times and The Washington Post for their less-than-ethical practices when it comes to reporting on important news stories. Whether it be skewing the facts to fit the publisher’s world views or writing op-ed pieces on issues that are aimed at promoting a certain agenda, Journalists these days seem to be more interested in doing whatever is necessary to build up their careers in a corporate media landscape than they are in reporting the truth.

This is why I prefer to focus all my efforts on fiction writing instead of trying to make it as a journalist. In fiction, there are no pretenses that what you are writing is factual or even realistic. People reading it aren’t looking to be indoctrinated or even informed, they just want a good story to escape into where they can cut loose from the real world for a time, allowing them to become something different through the characters they accompany on their journey. And while stories may have messages within them, the best authors tend to weave them into the fabric of their lore in such a way that it doesn’t come off as cringy or didactic, allowing the audience to discover it on their own as they follow the story to its natural conclusion.

To paraphrase a quote from the movie V for Vendetta, “Artists use lies to tell the truth, while [journalists] use lies to [skew] the truth.” I’ve always been a firm believer that art has the potential to do good things for the world as long as there are good artists willing to give their all to create pieces with the potential to touch peoples’ hearts and open their minds to new possibilities. Journalism, on the other hand, is a field that has become tarnished in my eyes, as well as in the eyes of so many other people, due to the unethical practices of so many within the field. This makes it a less-than-ideal avenue for me to promote my messages as a writer since people have to have a positive opinion about the work they are engaged with for them to have any chance of making a positive change. 

So, in closing, I want to say that it’s important to know that not everyone in the field of Journalism is bad, and there are still some who make an effort to report the news as accurately as possible. It’s just that when your hands are tied by a system run by people with their own agenda, then it becomes difficult to live up to one’s ethical standards as you are forced to operate within the confines of that system. So, as an artist who values his autonomy, I will choose to engage in fiction writing for the foreseeable future as I believe that the right kind of story can have a greater impact on the world so long as the creator has the freedom to pursue it.