Saturday, October 02, 2010

New modes of storytelling
Couple of weeks ago in a post I spoke about getting in touch with me concerning my quest and passion to explore the modularities of storytelling.

I had an interesting chat with Giordano who's doing some work in Haiti. He's been on the ground and has built up admirable knowledge about the area and issues.

The extent of that talk should remain confidential as it will, but there are broad principles that need addressing, and are in many quarters.

They include
  • Parachute Journalism
  • Partisan Journalism
  • anniversary journalism 
  • And Agenda-fuelled journalism

The latter of these sits in with a methodology of audiencing, the network and editorial values.

The editor chooses when to cover an issue, based around his or her knowledge of the audience's appetite. These are tried and tested methods, often referred to as gate-keeping, which external outfits in today's citizen journalism try and crowbar in their stories, issues etc.

A lot of editors I speak to acknowledge we operate a 19th century model of journalism, even 18th century if you think back to the Addison and Steeles, and we're yet to find a new construct.

This week I had a lengthy talk with the BBCs journalism college and in weeks to come hopefully we'll be able to announce a couple of things that attempt to lance some of those perennial boils of journalism in an artistic and practical manner.

My Background
In reflecting on my own past, I would like to think I have something to offer here. Those reason are both inclusion and being an outsider.

Being black is a statement; I am black, but it comes with a degree of eye-tracking working in the media. In 1987, as a science graduate, you could say I needed my head examined.  I had no contacts, no inside patron, but was fortunate enough to convince others to give me a chance.

So even though I went from one outfit to another e.g BBC, Channel 4, ABC News, South Africa, Ghana, Channel One and so on, I tended to think of myself as an outsider, but with a knowledge how the media operates.

That isn't to say main stream media has the 'knowledge' sown up, but that to prod and find cracks, we must be aware of how they work, as a practitioner and also from an academic point of view- where possible.

I'm continuing in a round of interviews which continue to reinforce my area of expertise sometimes, and also shed light on new areas. Often I have been fascinated by interviewing senior figures, only for them to turn the tables on me and ask what I think.

Multi modal storytelling
There is no one prescriptive method for telling stories.

In many ways the multiple approach we adopt through citizen journalism harks back to an era   pre-equitone - that prose of storytelling from an author as refined by 17th century Addison and Steele and given prominence by Marshall McLuhan.

We find our own accommodations by mimicking others, or borrowing their means. But knowledge does count. It provides Terra ferma to deconstruct these things that appear new, but in many ways have their own antecedents.

To the wire newsmen, twitter is a refinement of the early telegraph and telling a story before the line cut, or in Twitter's case you passed your word count.

Social media yields comparisons with pamphleteering - again in the early days of newspapers, when the princely sum of a few schillings forced people to share their Daily Courants and to talk about its impact in the pub, before the newspaper cryer would appear.

New knowledge and collaborative work comes from sharing, so I'm happy to talk, so please do email.