Carl Stover, like many readers, prefers the inverted pyramid style of reporting. You know, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

“I read the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Southtown daily, and I don’t recall reading a story that fits your description of human interest,” Stover told me.

The 74-year-old retired professor from Governors State University has read thousands of stories in his lifetime. He has a learned eye and a professorial understanding of the vagaries of news writing when it comes to traditional human-interest stories and old-fashioned storytelling, which he believes could be slowly dying.

“It relates to a contemporary trope in literature and philosophy that there is no objective truth, and narration and lived experience are equally valid if not no longer valid storiessaid Stover, a Park Forest resident who retired in 2011 after a 37-year stint at GSU.

He has a point. I have been guilty of using narrative storytelling to share news stories on controversial issues. In fact, that’s how I built a career as a journalist in an industry overflowing with news junkies and investigative journalists. As a reader, I prefer reports to reports. As a writer, I prefer place readers to a specific location rather than indicate to this place.

For example, my recent Mother’s Day column about a 101-year-old woman who cared for her special-needs daughter until she had to bury her.

“On a hot Sunday afternoon, Dee Zemel’s family gathered at Beth-El Cemetery in Portage to dedicate her daughter’s newly engraved headstone,” I wrote. “Surrounded by her three other children, Zemel grabbed a wad of tissues, which she would need in seconds.”

The theme, or “nut graph,” of the column was mothers whose children may be gone but never, never forgotten. This larger spot could have been my trail. I preferred to put it at the end of my column, after painting a portrait of the mother and her late daughter.

Honestly, I envy journalists who can write brevity, a skill I don’t possess. I’m in awe of writers who can say so much with so little, like this example of the shortest yet most powerful form of storytelling: “For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn.”

Storytelling is as universal as a tear and as human as speech.

From Shakespeare to YouTube, people love being involved in a story using a complication-solving storyline or an intent- and obstacle-driven storyline – the classic narrative hooks. This is why I try to weave dimensional relationships to stage a scene using human senses such as sight, hearing, touch, even smell.

There is a new push in journalism labeled as “inclusive storytelling,” which seeks to truly represent all peoples of the world. It gives voice and visibility to those who have been missing or misrepresented in the mainstream narratives of history and daily journalism, according to The Associated Press Stylebook.

“It helps readers and viewers both recognize themselves in our stories and better understand people who differ from them in race, age, gender, class and in many other ways” , reminds journalists of the latest style book update.

Stover, whose parents were both valedictorians, cited the plethora of news reports from war-torn Ukraine after the Russian invasion. Many of these stories use narrative leads to draw in readers or viewers, like this example Stover pointed out to me.

“Maria Shostakovich was sitting on her porch crying. (Description of Maria’s appearance) and (Description of Maria’s demolished house). Maria was mourning the death of her grandson Josef…she was just one of the victims of the Russian bombardment of her village,” Stover wrote.

“It’s too much in my opinion,” he told me.

Stover prefers a story that starts more like this: “The Russian bombardment killed 30 people in the village of X yesterday,” he said.

Most news stories use this style of direct reporting and writing, possibly due to lack of space. As one of my editors explained, “There’s simply no way to throw a five-paragraph narrative over a six-paragraph police report.”

Stover said: “For the past 20 years or so it has come under the rubric of post-modernism. Over the past five years or so it has become a serious issue in politics.

He attended middle school and high school at a small private institution in England in the early 1960s, then attended the US Naval Academy before transferring to Stanford University, where he took a writing course expressive. This skill has stayed with him through the decades.

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“Given this background, you will not be surprised that I am an educational and linguistic curator,” he said. “Bad English gets on my nerves, as does preciousness…and extreme relativism.”

Aristotle noted 3,000 years ago that some things are opinions and some things are truths. Laws and customs, he noted, are different between Athens and Persia, “but fire burns here and in Persia,” Stover said.

Anyone who can cite Aristotle, “Dragnet”, postmodernism and the Ukrainian war in the same email exchange is fine with me.

I love hearing from readers who not only Lily newspaper articles (and my columns), but who also study for contextual connections, universal truths or grammatical errors. Years ago, another retired college professor sent me very detailed written reviews of my work. He had fun writing it. I liked reading it.

Newspaper columns should be dialogue, not monologue. I welcome reader feedback of any kind, even if it’s to tell me that not all humans are interested in human interest stories.

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