Journalistic Chronicle – Concept, how to make one, and more …

We explain what a journalistic chronicle is, its structure, types and other characteristics. Also, differences with a news item.

journalistic chronicle
In the journalistic chronicle, everything related must be real and objective.

What is a journalistic chronicle?

A journalistic chronicle is a narrative text of the journalistic genre, that is, a narration written for documentary purposes, to address an aspect of reality that the journalist considers of news interest. It tells of events of a different nature, whether they have been witnessed by the journalist or they have been put together through the investigation, and which can cover a very long period of time: days, weeks or years.

The interesting thing about the chronicle is that it is a hybrid genre, which uses all kinds of resources to tell its story, even those that are typically literary, such as metaphor or stylistic resources.

However, since it is a non-fiction text, everything related must be real and objective, that is, imagination and invention have no place. For the rest, the journalistic chronicles are usually long and are often considered halfway between the report and the news.

The appearance of the chronicle in the journalistic field is considered something typical of the Contemporary Age, despite the fact that there are very remote and ancient antecedents of chronicles, with which historians, explorers and adventurers gave testimony of the world they discovered in their wake.

In fact, between the 9th and 15th centuries the chronicle was “invented” as a historiographic genre, that is to say, as the mainstay of history. There were great examples of this in the discovery and colonization of America by the Europeans.

See also: Journalism

Characteristics of the journalistic chronicle

journalistic chronicle characteristics
The journalist may have witnessed the events recounted in the chronicle.

Broadly speaking, the journalistic chronicle is characterized by the following:

  • It is a journalistic narrative, which combines the objectivity of the report with the narrative mechanisms of literature. However, fiction has no place in it.
  • Reports real and verifiable events, that the journalist may have testified or that he has recomposed from third party testimonies. These events can be very long in time (days, months, years, etc.).
  • Unlike other journalistic texts, has the stamp of its author, so that it does not respond to a pre-established and standardized format. Its structure is free and diverse.
  • They are usually long texts, which address a topic in depth, offering the reader a combination of informative data and narration.

Structure of the journalistic chronicle

Unlike other journalistic texts, the structure of the chronicle is entirely free. It does not respond to the traditional consideration of the “inverted pyramid”, nor should it necessarily go from the general to the specific. In these respects it acts more like a literary text.

Types of journalistic chronicle

journalistic chronicle types
Chronicles of events can address criminal, violent and catastrophic events.

The journalistic chronicle can be classified according to its content, as follows:

  • Chronicle of events. Also called a black chronicle, it deals with criminal, violent or accidents and catastrophes, in a more or less sensationalist way (depending on the profile of the news outlet).
  • Sports chronicle. As its name implies, it focuses on the narration of sporting events, often trying to carefully reproduce how things happened, to give the reader a sense of what it was like to be there.
  • Political Chronicle. It addresses issues of national, international or regional political interest, such as wars, international congresses, diplomatic meetings or electoral elections.
  • Society Chronicle. Focus your story on social events that may be of public interest, such as show business, royal weddings or national events. It should not be confused with social journalism, which is interested in issues of collective claim and class struggle.
  • Travel Chronicle. It recounts a trip in which the journalist took part, or reconstructs the trips of some person of interest.

Difference between the chronicle and the news

The differences between the chronicle and the news have to do, fundamentally, with the hybrid character of the chronicle, which allows a greater share of expressive freedoms, and endows it with an “author’s stamp” which the news lacks. The latter is not even usually signed, since it consists of an objective text for which the newspaper is responsible.

These differences can be summarized as:

NewsJournalistic Chronicle
They are generally short texts, written with transparent and objective language.They are long-term texts, written in a more or less literary language.
It responds to the structure of the inverted pyramid.It does not respond to any preconceived structure.
Address an event of news interest, going from the most specific to the most general.It addresses a series of events of public interest, but through a particular look.
It is not usually signed.It bears the signature and style of its author.

How to make a journalistic chronicle?

Paraphrasing Roque Rivas Zambrano, editor of the newspaper The time from Ecuador and a student of the chronicle, to write one of these texts it is advisable to be guided by the following series of steps:

  • Choose a topic well, which should invite the chronicler to be curious and passionate enough to build a piece that captures the reader’s interest. In that sense, there are no better themes than others.
  • Raising the issue, that is, to choose a fundamental axis or a fundamental idea from which the chosen topic will be approached, considering which of its edges you want to explore and which you do not.
  • Select the sources, which according to the famous Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski (1932-2007) must be of three types: people, documents and the real world itself.
  • Choose the approach from the chronicle, which means that we must choose between a more descriptive text (the information), a more narrative (the story) and one more opinion (the arguments). Ideally we can have elements of the three approaches, but one usually always predominates over the others.
  • Work in styleBy this the author refers to writing with a simple, but rich, clear, concise, precise, but interesting language. That is, write the text in such a way that it is not a mere retelling of facts, but that it is not a poetic ode either.
  • Take literary loans, that is, to apply methods, mechanisms and procedures from literature and other formats, such as dialogues, points of view, global portraits, metaphors, descriptions, etc.