During Monday’s lecture, we talked more about what makes a good multimedia story and about ways to present them. The pieces were really interesting examples of ways to make a story, no matter how small it might seem, powerful.
My personal favorite was a video, audio and photo montage called “A Thousand More”. It’s about a family whose son was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Philly Meyer’s spine was underdeveloped, causing his motor skills weaken. They were told he wouldn’t live past seven. The piece went on to highlight how the family members cope and are doing everything in their power to give their son a full life. I thought the story was quite well done. The interaction between audio, video and photography was almost seamless. The piece was emotionally moving and definitely opened up my eyes to see obstacles everyday people might have to face in their lives.
In seeming contrast to this first story, we rounded off the class with an example of how any story could be interesting: a fast-motion video of man raking a yard. Was it amusing? Certainly. But absolutely unlike the emotionally charged examples we watched earlier in the period.
The difference between these two videos really makes me think more about what makes good journalism. Is it true, as I am being told, that anything can be a good story? Can I comfortably put a boy with a spinal disease in the same overarching category as yard work? (Granted, I am fairly sure there was a larger purpose for his work. Unfortunately, the memory escapes me because we watched this video at the tail end of class, and some of the details got lost in the midst of closing binders and notebooks.) I’ve written stories in the past that I was told were not newsworthy. So where is the line drawn?
I think this is one of the parts of journalism that really makes me think. I absolutely love the concept that anything can be a story, but I’ve definitely had ideas shot down for not being important enough. When I was in high school newspaper, I shot some down myself.
Something that really helped me get my head around this perspective was a link I found on the class Twitter list. It’s about a journalism graduate who couldn’t find a job, so she decided to interview 100 people in a year and posted their stories on her Tumblr site. (Full disclosure: I wrote about this link on a personal blog as well, but I made sure the two posts are distinctly different.) The idea is that everyone has a story, that anyone can be interesting.
I think this went along really well with what we’ve been talking about in class, that anything can be a good story, it just depends on how you present it. There’s always something to write about, something people don’t know. The point is to find a way to help them want to know. And as the different news stories I’ve seen this week illustrate, there’s a lot journalists can teach people.
So is there a metaphorical line dividing the “newsworthy” from the “nobody cares?” At some point, probably. But I’m beginning to think it’s much blurrier than I’ve always believed. While my first inclination as a young journalist is to look only for the new, the novel, the headline news, I’m excited to learn ways to tell everyday stories, to show that any story really can be interesting and relevant.