The Causes and Effects of Storytelling in Journalism

I’ve been prone to talking about different forms of storytelling on this blog; even in ways that maybe one hadn’t considered before.  From books to movies and even personal narratives, I always strive to showcase the effect such different mechanisms of storytelling can have on people.  But there’s a form that I haven’t discussed yet that perhaps may oftentimes be overlooked by the mixed reception it more or less gets; and that is the mechanism of journalism; the profession of collecting a wide variety of information and sources on an event that’s happened or is taking place and then sharing them with an audience.  Being someone who has studied journalism in college, this is a form of storytelling that I’ve been wanting to touch upon for a while, but I’ve wanted to wait for the right time.  After looking over the events that have happened this past week, I think it’s fair to say that the appropriate time has come.

I was unpleasantly alerted to wake up to the news Wednesday morning of how two journalists- a reporter and a videographer- were shot to death while conducting an interview on live television.  It was news that has kept me bummed all throughout the day- and even still now- and the more details unfolded, the more unsettled I felt.  It’s been absolutely heartbreaking, and I feel nothing but sorrow for the family members and friends of these two journalists who have been affected by this senseless tragedy.

That’s not to say that journalists never put their lives on the line when it comes to their jobs.  There may be cases where they have to do a story in a really dangerous area and go about it as cautiously as possible.  Not to mention the war correspondents who risk their lives everyday to bring the news happening over where some of the members of our military are based at.  But this… they were reporting from a shopping plaza in Virginia.  They should have had nothing to fear.

How the report on this shooting- while good in getting it out there in the first place- is also flawed, and in a way that’s been seen before in past shootings our country has had the past few years.  Once again, we learn so much about the gunman behind the murder and his motives, and we even go so far as to where there are people who actually have the nerve to dig up and watch the video of when the shooting went down.  Once again, it appears that the news is feeding the wrong wolf at that angle, and is instead not focusing on the fact that a father has lost a daughter, a man has lost the love of his life, a woman watched her fiance be shot to death on TV, and a news station has lost two of its colleagues.  They were only doing their jobs; they were storytellers in their own rights.

The other set of news on my mind from this past week are the remarks Jeb Bush and Donald Trump made regarding Asian Americans; in Bush’s case, calling children of Asian immigrants “anchor babies;” for Trump, he dare used broken English to mock their speech.

Once again, how this report has gone about is also at fault.  Yes, it’s good to see that there are reports, quotes and videos, capturing exactly what these two men said, proving once and for all how f*cked up they are.  But at the same time though, it doesn’t help that the media is directing their attention their way period, for it’s giving in to the attention they so pathetically desire.  What about the other candidates?  What do they have to say about the issues these men would clearly start a setback if either is elected to the White House?  Does anyone in this abnormally long presidential race have anything of legitimate value to say about race in our country?

But the good news is that this set of news has also spurred a response online; and that is something that’s been happening a lot the past few years with social media growing more and more.  A 15-year-old boy named Jason Fong started a trend on Twitter called #MyAsianAmericanStory; where Asian Americans tweet their experiences growing up in a society where they’ve more or less received exposure to perpetuating racism that still exists.  Since the trend started, it’s received over 65,000 mentions.  I’m amazed by this, for it shows how one can take something negative and find it of useful value.  In this case, it’s about taking a stand against two men who must be in denial if they think they have any chance of becoming president at this point.

Journalism has got to be one of the most powerful forms of storytelling to ever exist in human history, and as I’ve showcased, it has its causes and effects, how it can be done right and how it can be done wrong.  Both cases demonstrate how our media needs to get better at not feeding the wrong wolf and focus its attention on either the real issue or on the aspects of an event that’s not being covered enough.  Also in both cases, it shows how the effects of the cause- putting the news out there- can come about and for bettering the future.  It’s because of these events that voices are rising up against Bush and Trump and that the father of Alison Parker might actually make the long awaited change in gun laws happen once and for all.

To the journalists who are actually doing their job well, I commend you for your efforts.  For those who keep shoving things like triggering footage, overexposing trolling politicians, and making headlines out of virtually nothing, here me when I say: Get your act together!

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