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Sadly missed : the death knock news story as a personal narrative of grief

Duncan, Sallyanne (2012) Sadly missed : the death knock news story as a personal narrative of grief. Journalism, 13 (5). pp. 589-603. ISSN 1464-8849

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Abstract

This article examines the manner in which journalists write news stories based on the ‘death knock’ interview where they gather reaction from the recently bereaved about their loss. The death knock news story with its emphasis on the first-hand testimony of the bereaved in certain respects can be perceived as a personal narrative of grief. This research studies the types of narratives used to tell these personal stories and applies Labov and Waletzky’s personal narrative model in order to determine what the bereaved tell us about grief and how the journalist interprets it. Statements from the bereaved contained in such stories are examined to identify emergent grief themes across the genre. The research found that despite the adoption of a more positive mood in the later stages of reporting a family’s grief the coherent narrative was one of unyielding anguish, emptiness and continuing loss.