(Originally posted April 27, 2010)
The RTDNA site posts tips for better video storytelling from NBC News Correspondent Bob Dotson, who presented an RTDNA@NAB session called “How Better Storytelling Can Save Your Job.” Among the tips: avoid pack journalism, meaning that when covering a news event that others are also covering, find something different that no one else can see.
This reminds me of a discussion about covering annual events, such as major festivals, during a recent peer review at the Danville Register & Bee. One editor said he won’t send reporters anymore to cover such events. And it’s true that if you tell a reporter to bring you a report on the festival, you’re going to get the same expendable story every year. That’s why it’s better to ask the reporter to come back with a story about someone or something particular that he or she finds at the festival. For instance, a Winston-Salem Journal reporter once went to cover the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, one of the all-time big annual events in the region. Stories about it are almost always interchangeable — scenery, weather, a few happy quotes. But this one reporter came back with something different — he had gone to the area where the competitors in the strength events, the guys who toss around telephone poles and big rocks, were waiting for their event. They were passing the time by showing off, bending nails and smashing things against their heads. Fascinating stuff, and no one else had ever gotten it before.