Narrative Journalism Super Week Focuses on Fact-based Storytelling
With an eye toward the second annual Podcast-a-thon on campus this spring, Narrative Journalism at Denison hosted a Super Week for students, faculty and the community on November 4-7, 2019.
Eight sessions were offered throughout the week to bring focus to the craft of fact-based storytelling. Session topics included how to get good audio tape, telling an audio story without a narrator, pitching stories/op-eds, telling a great audio story in under five minutes, a listening session on different audio story genres, and photojournalism with local refugee populations.
WYSO audio producer Jocelyn Robinson noted the wealth of expertise and skill being brought together around the factual storytelling work on campus and from a variety of viewpoints through photojournalists, investigative reporters and audio storytellers.
During her listening session, participants had an opportunity to slow down and give their full attention to a subject. “Storytelling is a craft, and it takes skill. Whether listening to a podcast or a person giving us the gift of their story, listening is the praxis of this work. There is great importance in honing that skill,” she said.
Amelia Jallabah, ’23, a Political Science major with a Narrative Journalism concentration, attended four of the NJ Super Week workshops and events. “Each event I attended brought a unique perspective to what it means to be in Narrative Journalism. They talked about things I hadn’t considered yet: the collaborative process, how much work goes into an audio story, researching, writing, editing.”
WBEZ audio producer Jesse Dukes led a workshop on “Good Audio Tape and How to Get It” and pointed out elements of a good podcast using his own published work with Curious City as an example. Interactive discussions noted the use of ambient sound, interviews, scripting, sensory imagery, and the universal language of love as a foundation for good audio storytelling. “Getting good audio tape requires using all of your senses,” he said.
Documentary photographer Tariq Tarey gave a talk on high level refugee policy and his process of photographing local refugees. Tarey emphasized placing a priority on respecting the relationships with people before photographing or telling their story.
Jallabah came away from the week with an understanding of the need for empathy in the work of storytelling no matter the media form. “Consider the people you are writing about. The way you approach them and the way you write about them are important and shouldn’t be rushed. I want to value the relationship as much as the work,” she said.
This event series was funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a gift by alumna Sue O’Donnell ‘67.