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Narrative journalism according to Felipe Restrepo

Narrative journalism according to Felipe Restrepo

May 11, 2021

The master's degree in International Journalism and the degree in Journalism and Corporate Communication have hosted a masterclass with the editor, writer and journalist Felipe Restrepo, former director of Gatopardo magazine, one of the most influential publications in Latin America.

"I like to think that journalism is a profession with defined rules, where you can also be creative and where you can always innovate," said the Colombian, by Zoom, from Bogotá, where he addresses students from the Blanquerna School of Communication and International Relations, who followed his lecture "Explaining a pandemic from narrative journalism".

Restrepo is the author of the novel Formas de evasión (Seix Barral, 2016); the biography of Francis Bacon: Retrato de una pesadilla (Panamericana, 2008); and two collections of journalistic profiles: 16 relatos excéntricos (Planeta, 2014) and Nunca es fácil ser una celebridad (Planeta, 2013), many of which were published under his direction in Gatopardo, one of the most popular narrative journalism magazines with a lingering tradition in the region.

In a dialogue with professor Alba Sabaté, coordinator of the master's degree in International Journalism and professor of the degree in Journalism and Corporate Communication, Restrepo has differentiated the current model of informative journalism that, according to him, is only responsible for following the dynamics of social media and transmitting information quickly, from that other journalism: the narrative one, often depicted as slow journalism, "which goes further, and not only states what is happening, but also tries to delve into reality, observe and, with a slower and deeper look, understand what happened ".

Narrate in social distance time

Once this journalistic style was defined, Restrepo commented on its evolution after confinement, in addition to the constant boom of information without solid content that was published daily: "With the pandemic, all the journalists became obsessed with non-stop broadcasting news to the point that the situation became distressing. If narrative journalism is the one that observes and therefore has to go out into the streets, the pandemic made it impossible to meet people and tell their stories".

In the talk, Restrepo encouraged young people to innovate and have a different vision, always through previous research work and a lot of perseverance. He stressed the importance of sticking to the facts and checking all the data you work with. About objectivity, he said: "What exists is a subjectivity based on research, which seeks to understand and not to judge". About his time at Gatopardo, he shared some lessons that he learned himself and, in general, about narrative journalism, concluding: "It is a difficult journalism in which you do not have a story from one day to the other, it requires patience and a lot of work".

Felipe Restrepo was included, in 2017, in the list of "Bogotá39", which brings together the best Latin American writers under the age of 40, organized by the Hay Festival. He studied literature and began his career as a journalist at Cambio magazine, under the direction of Gabriel García Márquez. His books have been published in Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Uruguay.

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