Journalism and the power of story, part 1      Where it begins ... how to get going ... and why we write                  ...
It all begins with this guy ...                 Homer Simpson. Photo courtesy of besos y flores on Flicker,               ...
... duh, oh. I meant, this guy.                                        Bust of Homer from the British Museum. Photo courte...
Homer BC vs Homer AD ... and modern journalism       • Not one guy. Possibly several guys (and gals). And hundreds of     ...
opening lines of the Iliad      (Homer’s lede)      Rage — goddess, sing, sing the rage of Peleus son      Achilles,      ...
Compare to Edward R. Murrow,      CBS, April 15, 1945        • “Permit me to tell you what you would have seen and heard, ...
What makes Homer and Murrow so good?      • and how the heck do these old-school guys connect to journalistic writing,    ...
News values that create good stories*      • Impact: so what? who cares? Troy? Buchenwald?      • Immediacy: when did it h...
Testing for emotion and subtext	      • The Godfather (President Obama’s favorite film. Why?)      • The Matrix: the red pi...
Meta-topics for Newsroom by the Bay 2011      • “High School Confidential”– News, views and stories about what matters to t...
What’s your meta-topic?      • 5-minute reflective write: what topic has your news team chosen? Why were        you drawn t...
Testing for story: An Imam in America*      • News happens, but stories matter — they tend to embody more of the news     ...
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Testing for story: Being a black man*      • News has great immediacy, but story tends to have a longer line: a story will...
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Testing for story: the troubles at King/Drew*      • While news strives to be objective, stories are aware of the subjecti...
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Tracy Weber’s Top 5 Storytelling Tips      • Do use documents and data, but open with one small story that says it all,   ...
Final flicks      • Literature is news that stays        news, says Ezra Pound. News        without story doesn’t last. Sto...
Journalism and the power of story, part 2      Story types, feature packages and elements of feature styleWednesday, June ...
Types of journalistic stories	 (roughly in order as they occur)*      • Advancers                               • Investig...
note day,                                                   time story                                                  wa...
Note repeated references to time of                                  day; this story will be updated hour by              ...
The roundup: all the news, all overWednesday, June 22, 2011
Deeper in the story, comment                                         from tobacco makers,                                 ...
The profile: up close and personalWednesday, June 22, 2011
Notice how AP makes sure you know they got                                             this through their own initiative/e...
Columns: many voices and choicesWednesday, June 22, 2011
Reviews: plot + point of viewWednesday, June 22, 2011
Editorial: the publication’s voiceWednesday, June 22, 2011
Opinion: adding community voicesWednesday, June 22, 2011
Assemble your own feature package	      • Work with others from your news team to identify the types of stories that you  ...
Elements of style: remember these guys?       Bust of Homer from the British Museum. Photo courtesy of   Edward R. Murrow....
opening lines of the Iliad      (Homer’s lede)      Rage — goddess, sing, sing the rage of Peleus son      Achilles,      ...
Compare to Edward R. Murrow,      CBS, April 15, 1945      • “Permit me to tell you what you would have seen and heard, ha...
Diction — choice of words      •alliteration (“doomed ... down ... dogs” ... “rags and the       remnants of uniforms”)   ...
Syntax — the order of words      •see first four lines of “Buchenwald” — each sentence is       different in terms of synta...
Imagery and point of view      •imagery (“House of Death,” “death had already marked       them”)      •personification (th...
Using quotes effectively      • Paraphrasing can be quicker        and more effective than a quote                        ...
Avoiding wordiness                           and jargon                           From a memo issued early in             ...
FDR kept it simple:      “Tell them that in buildings where      they will have to keep the work      going, to put someth...
Using description,      detail, observation      • Try Five Senses writing: look,        listen, smell, taste, feel. What ...
• Interior quote, set                               Torrance’s experience is typical of a traumatized teen. Speaking at hi...
Recommended reading: books on story & craft      • “Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by a Two-Time  ...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Journalism and the power of story

2,233 views
2,141 views

Published on

A classroom presentation for

Published in: News & Politics, Education
1 Comment
3 Likes
Statistics
Notes
No Downloads
Views
Total views
2,233
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
169
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
151
Comments
1
Likes
3
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Journalism and the power of story

  1. 1. Journalism and the power of story, part 1 Where it begins ... how to get going ... and why we write @ Beatrice Motamedi, Newsroom by the Bay 2011Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  2. 2. It all begins with this guy ... Homer Simpson. Photo courtesy of besos y flores on Flicker, licensed under Creative Commons.Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  3. 3. ... duh, oh. I meant, this guy. Bust of Homer from the British Museum. Photo courtesy of 1way2rock on Flicker, licensed under Creative Commons.Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  4. 4. Homer BC vs Homer AD ... and modern journalism • Not one guy. Possibly several guys (and gals). And hundreds of stories, not just one. And stories over time, not just once. • Not a writer. Primarily, a speaker. The first podcaster? • Probably blind. Thus, totally dependent on others for facts, quotes, description. No single person = the whole story. • Wrote for an audience that had already heard these stories, so his versions had to be short, punchy, new, memorable. • The world’s first war correspondent?Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  5. 5. opening lines of the Iliad (Homer’s lede) Rage — goddess, sing, sing the rage of Peleus son Achilles, murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses, hurling down to the House of Death so many souls, great fighters souls, but made their bodies carrion, feasts for the dogs and birds, and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end. Begin, Muse…Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  6. 6. Compare to Edward R. Murrow, CBS, April 15, 1945 • “Permit me to tell you what you would have seen and heard, had you been with me on Thursday. It will not be pleasant listening. If you are at lunch, or if you have no appetite to hear what the Germans have done, now is a good time to switch off the radio. For I propose to tell you about Buchenwald ...” • “The prisoners had crowded up behind the wire. We entered. And now let me tell this in the first person, for I was the least important person there ... Men and boys reached out to touch me. They were in rags and the remnants of uniforms. Death had already marked many of them, but they were smiling with their eyes. I looked past them to the green fields beyond, where well-fed Germans were plowing. (One person) ... came up and said, ‘May I show you around the camp?’” • Listen to Murrow’s reportWednesday, June 22, 2011
  7. 7. What makes Homer and Murrow so good? • and how the heck do these old-school guys connect to journalistic writing, online journalism, multimedia storytelling, and all the rest? Left: Edward R. Murrow. Photo courtesy of KUOW 94.9 Public Radio on Flicker, licensed under Creative Commons. Above right: Edward R. Murrow’s star on the Hollywood walk of fame in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo courtesy of bsoist on Flicker, licensed under Creative Commons.Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  8. 8. News values that create good stories* • Impact: so what? who cares? Troy? Buchenwald? • Immediacy: when did it happen? Yesterday? Today? Last Thursday? • Proximity: can I get a grip on this? Is it local to me? Lunch? • Prominence: who’s my Achilles? • Novelty: is it new or recycled? what’s really fresh? am I hitting the story at the right point in time, i.e., the latest iteration in the story cycle? • Conflict: who’s pro and con? who stands to lose? what’s the problem? • Emotions: what’s the story behind the story? Beyond facts, what is it about? *from Tim Harrower’s “Inside Reporting” (McGraw-Hill: 2007)Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  9. 9. Testing for emotion and subtext • The Godfather (President Obama’s favorite film. Why?) • The Matrix: the red pill and the blue pill. What are they, really? • Harry Potter: the best-selling children’s series, ever. Why? • Avatar: the highest-grossing movie of all time. Why? • Others?Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  10. 10. Meta-topics for Newsroom by the Bay 2011 • “High School Confidential”– News, views and stories about what matters to teens, from homework to hobbies • “Science @ Stanford”— News, views and stories about all things science • “Heart of the Art”– News, views, etc. about artists, art happenings, museums, performances, exhibits on campus • "News 2.0" — News, etc., about multimedia journalism, digital journalism, citizen journalism, backpack journalism, etc. • "One World" — News, etc., about multicultural topics, including diversity, students of color, world music, comparative lit, poli sci or other departments, etc. • Other?Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  11. 11. What’s your meta-topic? • 5-minute reflective write: what topic has your news team chosen? Why were you drawn to it? What is it really about? What’s the essential question at the root of your topic? How can you be creative in addressing this topic? (You do have to do this but you don’t have to turn it in. It can be your opening blogpost for your website, however). • 2-minute dyads: pick a partner. Tell your partner what you’ve written (one minute). Partners don’t speak but listen silently. After you speak, your partner repeats to you what he/she has heard (one minute). Did he/she get it right? Does your topic, your question, your story have legs? Do the same (listen, repeat) for your partner. (Do this, and report back to your team/team leader ... think of this as a tiny focus group/crowdsourcing your ideas).Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  12. 12. Testing for story: An Imam in America* • News happens, but stories matter — they tend to embody more of the news values, and they go on to have a deeper and more lasting significance. Is this news for today only, or is it a story? • Does this story have impact? Immediacy? • How do the headlines/decks add to your understanding/peg the emotion? • What jumps out at you? What are you most likely to remember? • Click on the package *This story was part of a series in the New York Times, which won the 2009 Pulitzer for feature writing.Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  13. 13. Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  14. 14. Testing for story: Being a black man* • News has great immediacy, but story tends to have a longer line: a story will begin with news, but is also capable of going forward and backward, providing context and perspective. • Does this package have proximity? Prominence? • How do the various elements in this package work together to create a multimedia whole? • What jumps out at you? What are you most likely to remember? • Click on the package *This story was part of a series in the New York Times, which won the 2009 Pulitzer for feature writing.Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  15. 15. Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  16. 16. Testing for story: the troubles at King/Drew* • While news strives to be objective, stories are aware of the subjective stakes — who stands to gain, who stands to lose, who will be hurt or helped by a story’s publication. Does this story have stakes? Who do you think got pissed off when this story appeared in print? • Does this story have conflict? Emotion? • How do the headlines/decks help tease out the emotion? • What jumps out at you? What are you most likely to remember? • Click on the package *This story was part of a series in the Los Angeles Times that won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in 2005.Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  17. 17. Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  18. 18. Tracy Weber’s Top 5 Storytelling Tips • Do use documents and data, but open with one small story that says it all, e.g., the imam wakes up, the little girl who died • Ask questions again and again until you get to the heart of the story, the quote you need. Be patient. Listen. • Take notes; write down everything you hear and as much as you can. But when you quote, be judicious. You will not use all of your quotes. • Be honest; if you don’t understand, say so: “I really want to find a way to put this into basic English, so could you help me with that?” • Prepare to rewrite. The lede for Tracy’s story was rewritten 70 times. Talk it out; talk over what you’re writing with a friend who knows nothing about the subject.Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  19. 19. Final flicks • Literature is news that stays news, says Ezra Pound. News without story doesn’t last. Story without news isn’t journalism. • Stretch the text: how can your headlines, captions, pull quotes tease out the news values in your story? • Think beyond text: how would you tell your story without words? What parts of the story could you tell with photo, podcast, slideshow, surveys? Is your story only text, or something else? Ezra Pound, poet. Photo courtesy of Steve D. Hammond on Flicker, licensed under Creative Commons.Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  20. 20. Journalism and the power of story, part 2 Story types, feature packages and elements of feature styleWednesday, June 22, 2011
  21. 21. Types of journalistic stories (roughly in order as they occur)* • Advancers • Investigative/enterprise • Breaking news • Columns • Spot news feature • Reviews • Roundups • News analysis, editorial, commentary, opinion • React • Profiles Examples are all from the San Francisco Chronicle @ sfgate.com on 6/21/11Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  22. 22. note day, time story was posted Advancer: it hasn’t happened, but it willWednesday, June 22, 2011
  23. 23. Note repeated references to time of day; this story will be updated hour by hour with new details (victim’s ID, Breaking news: just facts quotes from neighbors, etc.)Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  24. 24. The roundup: all the news, all overWednesday, June 22, 2011
  25. 25. Deeper in the story, comment from tobacco makers, American Cancer Society, more The react: what’s your take? gov’t. officials — tomorrow, AP will lead with thisWednesday, June 22, 2011
  26. 26. The profile: up close and personalWednesday, June 22, 2011
  27. 27. Notice how AP makes sure you know they got this through their own initiative/enterprise Investigative/enterprise reportingWednesday, June 22, 2011
  28. 28. Columns: many voices and choicesWednesday, June 22, 2011
  29. 29. Reviews: plot + point of viewWednesday, June 22, 2011
  30. 30. Editorial: the publication’s voiceWednesday, June 22, 2011
  31. 31. Opinion: adding community voicesWednesday, June 22, 2011
  32. 32. Assemble your own feature package • Work with others from your news team to identify the types of stories that you are doing so far for your meta-topic, e.g., profile, advancer. • Examine your list and answer: is this a list, or is it a package? How do the stories relate to each other? How do they (or don’t they) cohere? Does each story (or video, or podcast, or gallery, etc.) tell a different part of the whole? How can you create stronger connections between stories? • How many of your stories depend on words? Which stories could you tell without words? • What do you need to write, photograph, shoot (video) or podcast that you’re not doing already?Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  33. 33. Elements of style: remember these guys? Bust of Homer from the British Museum. Photo courtesy of Edward R. Murrow. Photo courtesy of KUOW 94.9 Public 1way2rock on Flicker, licensed under Creative Commons. Radio on Flicker, licensed under Creative Commons.Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  34. 34. opening lines of the Iliad (Homer’s lede) Rage — goddess, sing, sing the rage of Peleus son Achilles, murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses, hurling down to the House of Death so many souls, great fighters souls, but made their bodies carrion, feasts for the dogs and birds, and the will of Zeus was moving toward its end. Begin, Muse…Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  35. 35. Compare to Edward R. Murrow, CBS, April 15, 1945 • “Permit me to tell you what you would have seen and heard, had you been with me on Thursday. It will not be pleasant listening. If you are at lunch, or if you have no appetite to hear what the Germans have done, now is a good time to switch off the radio. For I propose to tell you about Buchenwald ...” • “The prisoners had crowded up behind the wire. We entered. And now let me tell this in the first person, for I was the least important person there ... Men and boys reached out to touch me. They were in rags and the remnants of uniforms. Death had already marked many of them, but they were smiling with their eyes. I looked past them to the green fields beyond, where well-fed Germans were plowing. (One person) ... came up and said, ‘May I show you around the camp?’” • Listen to Murrow’s reportWednesday, June 22, 2011
  36. 36. Diction — choice of words •alliteration (“doomed ... down ... dogs” ... “rags and the remnants of uniforms”) •consonance (“countless losses” ... “smiling with their eyes”) •strong verbs — (“cost” “hurled down” ... “prisoners crowded .. we entered ... I looked”)Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  37. 37. Syntax — the order of words •see first four lines of “Buchenwald” — each sentence is different in terms of syntax. Varying like this keeps your audience engaged •see Homer’s lede — one long sentence, but punctuated by clause/where you naturally need to pause •employ repetition for effect (“so many souls ... fighters’ souls”)Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  38. 38. Imagery and point of view •imagery (“House of Death,” “death had already marked them”) •personification (the will of Zeus is “moving towards its end”) •direct address (“Rage – goddess, sing ...” ... “If you are at lunch ... now is a good time to switch off the radio”)Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  39. 39. Using quotes effectively • Paraphrasing can be quicker and more effective than a quote Nurse Owen Jay Murphy Jr. twisted the jaw of one patient until he • Internal quotes, when used screamed. properly, are extremely effective He picked up another one – an elderly, frail man – by the shoulders, at capturing speech slammed him against a mattress and barked, "I said, Stay in bed. " He ignored the alarms on vital-sign monitors in the emergency room, shouted at co-workers and once hurled a thirsty patients water jug • Quote only what you need — against the wall, yelling, "How do you like your water now?" according this spokesman said much to state records. more, but what is quoted here Murphys fellow nurses at Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center finally pleaded with their bosses for help. "They were afraid of him," a is exactly what’s needed, no hospital spokesman said. more from “When caregivers harm: problem nurses stay on the job as patients suffer,” by Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein, LA Times/ProPublica.org, 7/11/09Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  40. 40. Avoiding wordiness and jargon From a memo issued early in World War II to instruct federal workers on what to do in case of an air raid: “Such preparations shall be made as will completely obscure all Federal buildings and non- Federal buildings ocupied by the Federal government during an air raid for any period of time from visibility by reason of internal or external illumination.” Poster for George Orwell’s “1984.” Photo courtesy of thefoxling on Flicker, licensed under Creative Commons.Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  41. 41. FDR kept it simple: “Tell them that in buildings where they will have to keep the work going, to put something over the windows.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Photo courtesy of donkeyhotey on Flicker, licensed under Creative Commons.Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  42. 42. Using description, detail, observation • Try Five Senses writing: look, listen, smell, taste, feel. What kind of detail can each of these actions give you? • Shut up: try writing and describing for a paragraph or more without using a quote • OK to use interior quotes (what someone was thinking), but you have to ask them/check to make sure you’re correctWednesday, June 22, 2011
  43. 43. • Interior quote, set Torrance’s experience is typical of a traumatized teen. Speaking at his friend’s funeral, off in ital; checked the words went past in a blur. Then it was over, and Torrance was walking back to his with Torrance pew when it hit him: I am exactly like Marquis. I am Marquis. I am 17, the child of a single mother, a young black man. It could have been me. Torrance ran out of the funeral home at the corner of Telegraph Avenue and MacArthur • Five Senses Boulevard. He started crying and waving his arms, black parka flying. He stumbled writing; no quotes over the curb and into the street. People began shouting from the sidewalk. But Torrance didn’t respond: he raved and waved his arms and walked in circles and then he fell down and he stayed there, in the middle of the street on a bright fall • And now the morning, rocking and moaning to himself as the cars sped by, horns blaring. quote Finally a teacher got Torrance back onto the sidewalk and hugged him hard until he stopped moving. "What do they want from us?" Torrance cried, rage subsiding into anger and anger melting into tears. "This is the sixth person I know who died. The sixth person; I shook his hand. What do they want from us? What do they want from a black man? I’m scared. I’m scared." From “The long arm of childhood,” Beatrice Motamedi, the Oakland Tribune, 5/31/11Wednesday, June 22, 2011
  44. 44. Recommended reading: books on story & craft • “Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by a Two-Time Pulitzer Prize Winner,” by Jon Franklin (Plume) • “Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writer’s Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University,” Mark Kramer and Wendy Call, eds. (Plume) • “America’s Best Newspaper Writing: A Collection of ASNE (American Society of News Editors) Prizewinners,” Roy Peter Clark and Christopher Scanlan, eds. (Bedford St. Martin’s) • “Literary Journalism: A New Collection of the Best American Nonfiction,” Norman Sims and Mark Kramer, eds. (Ballantine)Wednesday, June 22, 2011

×