This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Power of Narrative conference, curated by my former professor, Mark Kramer. It was a whirlwind of truly inspiring speakers - journalists for whom telling stories is what makes life interesting and beautiful and important. The indecisiveness in me hated that there were multiple speakers presenting at once - like those Choose Your Own Adventure books I never liked; I wanted to know about every possibility - but the sessions I was able to hear were so significant.
I failed to post last week due to a computer mishap, but I’ve been collecting a whole new slew of tabs about what I heard this weekend. This edition is not necessarily timely, i.e. things that were posted or published within this week, but it is relevant to the point of bookmarking things I don’t ever want to lose. And a way to remedy how my head has been buzzing with all the inspiration.
+David Carr gave a keynote with Ta-Nehisi Coates about how storytelling evolves along with technology. Scribbled frantically in my notebook:
“Everyone knows what you mean when you say man, that was a good story. The writer went places, created an immersive experience, found people more interesting than them”
“People consume narratives on their phones; it’s hard to finish something on a computer or tablet because they do too many things”
“Twitter has something to do with headlines but nothing to do with narrative”
“Great stories happen in a room filled with fear and insecurities”
Plus shout outs to Medium (which he will be using for his upcoming students at BU), This American Life, and Lucky Peach for retaining an artisanal approach.
+ A debate between the needs of art and the needs on truth with Josh Neufeld re: journalism through comics
+ Amy O'Leary on using multimedia designed to make the reader curious, and how to promote a story by getting it out into the ecosystem in which it lives. She also showed us a multimedia failure in which the interface was too confusing to navigate, saying “I thought I knew better than the reader what they needed; I was in love with my own ideas.”
+ Jennifer Brandel spoke about Curious City, through which the public can be involved in every stage of the story. This website is so creative, from how they choose ideas to explore through their incredibly compelling interactives. In one example, she explained how her radio station commissioned a science illustrator to create art for this webpage, laughing both in the amazement and slight ridiculousness of the way our world now works.
+ Kat Chow sees the beauty of journalism in how you can play around and see what works with the readers through social media. The ticker that starts as soon as you open this story is a powerful tool to engage anyone who otherwise might not have been compelled to click through. (The photo above is also from this story.)
+ Dan Barry spoke about his story The Boys in the Bunkhouse, showing examples of different ledes and where exactly he slashed words, saying “In the tightening comes some purity.”
+ Adam Hochschild spoke about memoir with Barry and Carr, warning that “Everything in our lives interests us. It’s a big mistake to think others will also be interested.”
There were too many great speakers, too many possible links. Scroll through #narrativeBU for more.