Does fiction have a stronger impact than journalism?

At 18:30 GMT on the 14th June 2016, fiction and journalism went head to head in this Index on Censorship Big Bookend Festival debate, with authors and journalists asking: which has more impact, creative writing or reporting?

This debate formed part of the 5th Big Bookend Festival and a full recording of the evening is available below.  

Theme / Speakers / LocationFestival and Index issue / Recording


About the debate:

In 2016, the Index on Censorship Big Debate was back in Leeds for the 5th annual Big Bookend Festival. This time, Index editor Rachael Jolley was joined by a team of journalists and authors as they discussed the comparative impacts of journalism and fiction.

The Index on Censorship magazine, while known for its hard hitting reportage, also features a variety of sources and has a long history of publishing powerful fiction from literary heavyweights, such as Arthur Miller, Ariel Dorfman and, more recently, the Costa award winner Christie Watson and the playwright Howard Brenton.

And, it is in this vein that the magazine’s latest edition informed and led into this debate, commemorating as it does Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary with a look at the multi-faceted ways in which the bard has been used to circumvent oppressive regimes and their suppression of freedom of expression.

Plays, poetry and short stories are not only able to tell stories in environments in which journalism has been suppressed, but they can also evoke situations and thus reach people in ways which news reports, confronted by warier audiences, might fail to do so. Yet, does fiction have the reach and the ability to slowly form opinions over days, months and years as press formats can? Which media has the most impact and the greatest potential for informing contemporary opinion?



Chris Bond is an assistant features editor by The Yorkshire Post.

Anthony Clavane is an author, journalist and playwright.

Rachael Jolley is the editor of the Index on Censorship magazine.


Yvette Huddleston is an author and freelance journalist, specialising in the arts.

The Big Bookend Festival and Index on Censorship:

This event took place within the framework of Leeds’ 5th Big Bookend Festival, which you can read more about here and whose programme for 2016 can be found here. 2016’s festival theme was entitled Crossing City Limits and looked at how boundaries can both define and restrict. On the one hand, acting as frames of reference which help us understand who we are through formulating our identities and creating a sense of belonging or home. And, on the other hand, constraining us, limiting our imaginations and confining and separating us, rather than providing us with new horizons.

This debate marked the 3rd year of Index’s participation in Leeds’ Big Bookend Festival in the form of the Index on Censorship Big Debate. While previous years have focused on the link between religious freedom and freedom of speech and the role of propaganda and governments withholding truth in wartime, this year’s theme stemmed from the latest edition of Index‘s magazine, which looks at how Shakespeare’s plays have been, and continue to be, used around the world to bypass censors or to take on authorities. To read more about this edition, click here, to find out more about Index per se, click here to visit their website.

Photos from the evening:



Carriageworks Theatre, 3 Millennium Square, Leeds, England, LS2 3AD