As a multimedia journalist, I’ve had to produce content that was less than ideal in my opinion in order to meet the lack of attention spans of viewers in todays society – and keep the lights turned on.
The past few weeks has had me listening to NPR – really listening – to the audio documentary stories produced by the organization and I’ve come to realize that it requires a dedication and patience to listen to a properly crafted story that truly tells a compelling story.
Radio played a large part as an entertainment and informational medium in the early-mid 20th century. Today, it’s all about repetitive sound bites in the 24 hour video news media cycle and the constant barrage of reality entertainment that is neither reality nor entertainment.
From what I can tell, audio programming has been going much the way as the newspaper industry, one that was predicated on ad sales driving the ever increasing want for more money by it’s owners.
Now we’ve hit this place of the apparent demise of the newspaper publishing industry, and in much the same way, radio broadcasting which has been taken over by huge media agencies looking to bombard it’s listeners with ever increasing moronic ads which seem to be created to insult the listeners intellegence.
The bright spot in all this is NPR, and its commitment to the general story telling style that mimics the organizations standards of excellence. Also, my constant visits to Transom.org has given a unique perspective on becoming an indie audio journalist and storyteller.
In my observation, as a society, we’ve lost our capacity to understand what’s truly important. The ability to hear another’s story, and let the theater of the mind play out what the listener envison’s as a result of audio journalists well crafted audio story telling is a skill that is seeing a renaissance as a result of 21st century technology.
The range of tools and software as well as training has provided this ability to craft those stories that outside the lamestream news media and are an important part of documenting the various aspects of society.
The flip side is that there’s so much of it, it’s difficult to develop a tribe of listeners who believe in what we do.
Its my belief that’s where finding our purity of purpose is critical in what audio storytellers do – an din the process, a renaissance in compelling audio storytelling. The caveat is it also requires us to develop some sort of marketing & promotion to let others know what we’re producing, and then letting that building of our tribe of listeners to develop organically. The tools and the method of delivery are within anyone’s reach. It’s our responsibility to craft those stories in a compelling way.
Could it be said that there is a sort of specific class of people who are true aficionados of this art form of storytelling (aka – class warfare)? I would have to say there is, although I can’t find a better term to describe the people who make a conscious choice to be a listener to this art form of journalism and storytelling.
With all these choices of tools, outlets and subject matter, it will be upon us to develop our skills – and stories that will develop our listener base. The tribes we build will be small, but they will be true listeners, those willing to listen to those stories we tell, and thus contribute to a better understanding of those whose stories we tell.