Revisiting Journalism with Documentaries

For a second post on Thanksgiving I want to expand on the conversation of Journalism and Art. Specifically I want to add a conversation on Documentaries. What is the role of a documentary today and how does that role interact with art and journalism? What is interesting to me is the word itself, I believe it is only applied to film and then when we think of the equivalent in literature we fall into the “nonfiction” category of biographies, historical studies, social studies, and so on. So we have touched upon the artistic value in journalism that it may be art through the way in which this “information” we receive on a daily basis is transmitted to us. That basically journalism and especially photojournalism becomes art because of the way it (being the “information”) is interpreted by the journalist. Well the same can be said about documentaries and I bet one would be hard pressed to find a documentary film director who would disagree with the idea that what they are doing is art. After all it was Buñuel’s film, Las Hurdes, which highlighted the fundamentally paradox of documenting: by observing you alter and therefore influence.

So by this same argument can nonfiction literature be art? I guess the most ironic example of this would be the publication art criticism or history. Is André Bazin an artist like Jean Renoir? The truth is, and I believe critical theory will back me up on this that it is impossible to comment on society without influencing society, therefore all critical thought and philosophical theory plays as much a role in shaping society as it does in describing it. So one could argue that it is the way in which André Bazin writes as well as how he chooses what to write that makes him an artist. But then does art become about form rather than content? Are we suggesting that he, along with journalism, is artists because of how they create rather than what they create? Basically I return to the fundamental question: Is the newspaper a work of art?

 

I expect answers, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

 

Huysmans

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