Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Storytelling with Narratives in Print and Pictures, workshop for journalists, Oct. 2 in Lexington, Ky.

No matter how newspapers are changed by technology, new business models and factors yet unknown, their journalists will keep performing at least two basic functions: telling citizens what they need to know, and telling stories about them. (Photo by Jock Lauterer, from the third edition of his book Community Journalism.)

Storytelling is as old as the human race, and one of the things that makes us human. It is also something that could be crucial to the future of newspapers, whether through narrative accounts of people’s lives; new, digital forms using photography, audio and video; or multimedia combinations. A recent example is this package on Alabama loggers from The Washington Post. Or, going back a few years, this story by Rick Bragg in The New York Times on a tornado killing worshippers at a church.

To help community newspapers tell stories in new ways, or ways that may be new to them, The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues will present a one-day workshop, “Storytelling with Narratives in Print and Pictures,” at the University of Kentucky in Lexington Friday, Oct. 2. The earlybird registration deadline, with a reduced fee, is Sept. 4.

The storytellers will be Stephen G. Bloom, left, author and journalism professor at the University of Iowa and writer for The Oxford Project, a 2008 book of photographs and narratives of the people of Oxford, Iowa; photographer David Stephenson, who recently left the Lexington Herald-Leader after helping the newspaper break new ground in storytelling with audio, video and still photography; and Amy Wilson, feature writer and roving rural reporter for the Herald-Leader and former reporter for the Orange County Register in California.

The idea for the workshop began with Bloom, who hopes to help community newspapers, especially those in rural America, publish the kind of deeply personal narratives that are part of The Oxford Project, which has won widespread praise. Filmmaker Ken Burns said of it, “This powerful confessional book draws its strength from the truth that so-called ordinary people, not those with bold-faced names, are actually the heroes of our American drama." Hank Steuver of The Washington Post wrote, “People don’t get much more real than this.” More information on the book is available at http://www.oxfordproject.com/.

“These narratives are important stories that cut to the heart of life in rural America,” Bloom says. “Yet seldom, if ever, do we see these kinds of deeply personal narratives appear in rural newspapers. I'd very much like to share with rural journalists how I went about interviewing residents, and why such journalism is essential to the future of rural newspapers.”

Wilson, left, and Stephenson, right, have won many awards and have collaborated on several multimedia stories for the Herald-Leader, some of which are at http://www.davidstephenson.com/. “We are lucky and proud to have such a great lineup of experts,” said Al Cross, director of the Institute. “They will help rural journalists tell compelling stories in a variety of ways, which our business increasingly demands.” For a PDF with more about the workshop and a registration form, click here. For more information, contact Cross at 859-257-3744 or al.cross@uky.edu.

1 comment:

Mike at The Big Stick said...

This makes me think of the Foxfire Books. One of the greatest oral history projects of the last century (in my opinion).

Oral histories are invaluable to a variety of fields. As an archaeologist with the Kentucky Archaeological Survey we did on-the-spot oral histories with residents of Louisville's Portland neighborhood during a public day at one of our digs in that area. The information they provided us was extremely helpful in understanding variances between our intial research and our findings.