By: Breana Albizu
Featuring Dr. Larry Foley (departmental chairperson of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas) and Dr. Ginger Blackstone (news director at Harding University), while moderated by Ansley Watson (reporter at KATV Channel 7 in Little Rock), this panel combined their personal experiences within the journalism world to reflect on how to find compelling stories within one's own communities.
The biggest lesson learned was that storytelling is a key factor in finding those stories. It's simple: if you find the right story, the story will tell itself. But once you found it, how do you tell it? Dr. Foley noted that as humans, we relate better to people one-on-one than a single group (or society). This is where the human face is very important to your storytelling. If you are covering a huge issue, such as homelessness, you don't want to formulate your story to be too big. As a reporter, you want to explore, analyze your scenery, and communicate with people. Finding the one person with a great story, such as a man who is a retired veteran and who constantly has to struggle with finding a place to sleep and dealing with his postpartum depression, counts as a great angle.
If you look close enough, everyone has a story. The impact is a huge thing when considering what stories mean to others, which is why emotional ones are the stories people tend to connect with. Dr. Foley also mentioned that as a reporter, when you first arrive on to a scene, take a few minutes to observe your surroundings. Often times, journalists are so consumed and preoccupied with their role as storytellers rather than becoming humans first, which is why some people are not trusting of the media. The media often times frames stories and topics in a negative light that may be upsetting to both the viewer and the interviewer. It's also important to build trust with your audience, loyalty so that more people are willing to open up and share their stories with you.
Learning to use your senses as a reporter and to seek out the compelling stories are often the hardest to recognize and does not come easily to most. However, talent and hardwork always can excel your craft of reporting.
"Take me there, make me care" - Dr. Ginger Blackstone