Tales out of turn

On (mis)telling other people's stories

The challenge of telling other people’s stories is an occupational hazard for journalists, historians, memoirists, conflict mediators and even preachers. Getting the facts accurate is only part of the challenge. Storytellers have to grapple with the most effective way to tell the story and what perspective to take or interpretive remarks to include.

Storytelling is not just a matter of craft; it’s also a moral problem—because to a large extent we are our stories. If our stories are violated, so are we.

It is often said that in telling someone else’s story, you should imagine that other person being in the room. Would she find your version of her story accurate and fair?


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