Six paths to the campfire

Stories are important.  I’ll beat the dead horse again – see my blog title. Journalism hinges on narrative and compelling human connections. Content, content, content; platform is (nearly) irrelevant.

One MU J-school prof, Jacqui Banaszynski, won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for her storytelling.  She has several “paths” for developing a great story line.

While a story frame is the vehicle in which a reporter travels, a path can be considered the direction in which the vehicle started at the outset.

Jaqui’s Six Paths:

Profile – remember your nouns.  Person, place, thing, idea.

Explanatory –  think how-to guides.  XYZ 101.

Issue/Trend – big, expansive ideas fit here.  Poverty, social media, etc.

Investigative – be the detective and wave the Fourth Estate flag.

Narrative – memorable characters and riveting plots, please apply.

Descriptive – also known as slice-of-life.  One piece of a full narrative.

In my reporting class, we discussed the behavior of a five-year-old. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?  Kids are curious, and so are readers.

Readers want a great story.  To convince readers to gather around our campfire and not someone else’s, we have to keep asking questions.

Be the kid who’s five again.  Ask “Why?” as many times as your age.

Surprising – and fun, and interesting, and newsworthy – results are likely to follow.

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