Ninety-nine percent of the time, using the pronoun “I” in a story is a journalistic no-no.
The reasons for this prohibition are many. One is objectivity. Remaining aloof and distant helps a reporter achieve the goal of objectivity, or so the conventional thinking goes.
Another is focus. The story isn’t about the reporter. It’s about the people they report on.
But sometimes, the pronoun “I” is a useful storytelling tool. For instance, “I” unlocks possibilities for framing and entering a story.
In the case of today’s feature on Saltcast, “I” (and it’s cousin “me”) allows the reporter to act as a surrogate for skeptical listeners when no character is available to play that role in the story.
Katie Mingle’s “Portrait of a Psychic as a Young Man” is a timeless tale of adolescence told through fifteen year old Nathan Dyer. Katie gently uses the first person in the story — sometimes directly, other times through carefully understated observation. She artfully achieves both objectivity and focus while employing “I.”
Just off the top of my head, I can think of two reporters who are masters of “I” – Sean Cole and Neenah Ellis. They manage to navigate the tricky waters of objectivity and focus while writing in the first person.
Feast your ears on other stories by Katie Mingle at her website.