The evolving art of storytelling |
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The evolving art of storytelling


Forget newspapers. And the television. The radio. The Internet. All of it.

The revelation of the modern news age: Stories matter more than where they get told.

“The changes in technology that we’ve seen in the last 30 to 40 years in this business are amazing,” Terry O’Reilly , the newly hired CEO of the Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp., recently told a room full of reporters and students at the grand opening of the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University.

“At the end of the day, this is about storytelling — and the cameras, and the mics, and the recorders, and the computers, and all the rest of that, these are means to an end,” he said. “They’re not the end in and of itself. So think about storytelling because that’s really what’s important here.”

Generations of journalists have come up thinking about writing print, broadcasting on TV or radio, making photographs, designing publications.

Smart students today incorporate every tool into a cohesive story. They develop abilities to work across different media, and then they decide the best ways to express themselves.

The Center for Media Innovation encourages this by featuring state-of-the-art facilities for conveying messages via sounds, images, written words and the Internet.

Certainly, the media industry is changing in sudden and painful ways. But there has to be hope for the future too.

Luis Fábregas, the Pittsburgh Trib’s new editor, took a defiantly hopeful stand at the center’s opening.

“There’s something new to create in the way we tell stories for our readers, our users, whatever we want to call them,” Fábregas said. “Good luck trying to stop journalism because I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”

The day the center opened, The Incline launched its news website.

“We have a few seconds to grab you and to say, ‘You should come to our story, you should read our story and you should stay,’” editor Lexi Belculfine said.

The center’s opening featured other upstarts too. UpGruv , the Trib’s sister publication, has a strategy built on the acronyms TLDR (too long didn’t read) and FOMO (fear of missing out, as in if you don’t click on a link).

PublicSource , meanwhile, tells lengthy stories that seek to answer difficult questions, Executive Director Mila Sanina said.

“We try to hit (readers) emotionally,” she said. “We don’t tell them what to think. We ask them to think.”

The length and shape of stories matters less, it turns out, than how well storytellers connect with their audience.

Andrew Conte is the director of the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University. His column appears monthly.

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