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Creative storytelling: Links for WJEA workshop March 13, 2010

Posted by Amy in Education, Journalism, Storytelling, Video.
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I’m talking with students at the Washington Journalism Education’s 2010 conference today, first about creative storytelling and then about preparing for a career in journalism.

This post mostly relates to the first workshop, titled “Creative Storytelling: Rethinking the Inverted Pyramid.” We’ll cover several examples of creative journalism, and I don’t expect to have time to show every video from start to finish or read every story in its entirety.

Students who’d like to see more can find links to examples below.

No Greater Love, from the Washington Post

This photo essay is complimented by a more traditional story as well as the photographer’s reflections on her story. Using photos and character-based audio, it tells the story of Classie Morant, 104, who cares for her bedridden sister.

The Dictaphone Doctor, from the New York Times

This photo essay is part of a larger project the Times ran last year: One in 8 Million. Photographers profiled New York City residents and let them tell their stories through audio tracks. Much of it is honest, raw and surprisingly uplifting. My favorite is the story of Ed Grajales, better known as the Dictaphone doctor.

Once again, a photographer’s gallery is complimented with audio that lends a sense of the character through his own words.

“There’s an app for that,” by the St. Petersburg Times

Obviously, the two examples above are parts of  huge projects that required months and months of investment. But even small stories deserve to be told well. This next one was told by an intern at the St. Petersburg Times. Kim Wilmath was assigned to write about how stolen iPhones are recovered using GPS, an assignment that could have turned into a lackluster brief like this one from AnnArbor.com. Instead, she told a story.

Pearls Before Breakfast, by the Washington Post

Imagine encountering genius on your way to work. Would you recognize it amid the morning rush? That’s what one Washington Post reporter wanted to know. He asked world-renown violinist Joshua Bell to play in a D.C. subway station, and wrote about the reaction he received. The article is artistically phrased and uses video footage of the experiment to punctuate the story. The Post won a Pulitzer for the project in 2008.

This is Crystal, by the Everett Herald

This is one of my favorite examples of creative storytelling from my own newspaper. A reporter and photographer captured the story of a woman who has endured a lifetime of illness and disease.

Note: Another great video project worth watching is Neverland by a graduate student at Ohio University. It tells the story of  several Appalachian women in a recovery drug and alcohol recovery program. The film does contain some profanity, so we won’t be watching it in the classroom.

Last but not least, data visualization

Think creatively when you’re reporting on numbers. In most cases, a visual tool is going to be much more effective than a text-based interpretation of data. Free resources include IBM’s Many Eyes and recently-launched Tableau Public. For examples of what good data visualization looks like , click here, here or here.

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