The Junk Drawer: Some great helpful advice on storytelling, getting people to trust you and some thoughts on “fake news”

As we noted in an earlier post, the Junk Drawer is usually full of stuff that didn’t fit anywhere else but you still need. Consider some of these items:

Tell me a story and make me care:
People always ask about how they can improve their overall approach to storytelling, as it is the primary element that links all of our media-writing disciplines. Here’s a really solid article that outlines some of the habits you can break that will immediately improve your storytelling ability.

Trust, but verify:
Why don’t people trust “the media?” The Knight Foundation published a list of 10 reasons, many of which should concern any media student. I wish I could remember who said it, but it is true that we have seen a fundamental shift in how we engage media. It used to be that we read news to help us develop an informed opinion on a topic. Now, we have the opinion and we seek out content that will support what we already believe. As media-writing students (and instructors) we need to figure out exactly how we’re going to deal with this idea going forward and how best to help people see the value of what we create.

Fake news (or is it?):
President Donald Trump has mused about taking away the press credentials of news organizations that do not provide him with favorable coverage. This should concern anyone at any level of media whether they like or dislike Trump and if they cover the president or they cover their campus. The goal of a free and unfettered press is to shed light on anything that might be of public interest, regardless of how “favorable” it is to any particular individual. Any attempt to chill that arrangement can limit what people have the right to know about things that could affect them. If this happens at a national level, what is to prevent other public organizations from trying similar things when they decide the coverage is getting too hot for them? Also, here’s an interesting take on why it has become problematic that the term “fake news” has become synonymous with the concept of “news that I don’t like to see because it’s mean to me.”

Failure is an option. Just don’t take it: I’m a huge fan of the late comedian W.C. Field’s line about success and efforts: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no use being a damned fool about it.” To be fair, it often seems we don’t get to the second “try” before quitting, so here’s a pretty good look at where failure comes from, why we tend to do it and what we can learn as we process it.




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