Interrogating empathy in two long form texts: a comparative textual analysis of trauma affect

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Journal Article
Journalism, 2020
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© The Author(s) 2020. There are three traditional categories of empathy – emotional, cognitive and compassionate or radical. For decades, empathy was seen as the antithesis of any kind of good journalism; that the journalist must at all times maintain detachment in order to do her job. But this paper interrogates, through the textual analysis of two Australian long form texts, including several epitextual artefacts, how empathy can perform as an evocative tool of narrative literary journalism creating richer and deeper meaning and depth of understanding. Both texts are hybrids of the form, mixing narrative inquiry, reportage and personal reflective practice. Here I argue that the first text conflates emotional and compassionate empathy, while the second privileges cognitive and radical empathy, ultimately and startlingly advocating compassionate empathy. Both provide for their audience an intimate glimpse into the private lives of others affected by trauma or occupying a particular place in cyberspace.
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