Storytelling as an Artform

I think storytelling is most certainly an art form.

I also don’t think the lecture was as informative as it could have been. Now, sure, it was good for all the reasons that it showed rookies basic information about video shot composition and the good aspects of storytelling. But, I guess I find myself more seasoned at the video work from my high school broadcasting classes. Which makes me wonder, is this class just so basic it’s on the level of my high school classes or were my high school classes in broadcasting and newspaper just so awesome they taught me exactly what I needed to be overly prepared for college.

I’d like to believe the latter.

My broadcast teacher, Karrie Smythia, and my newspaper teacher, Carol Ullery, were two amazing women I couldn’t be myself without. They taught me everything I know about journalism; well, mostly. They prepared me so well, and inspired so much passion in me, I could never thank them enough. They do this will all the lives they touch, I think.

Carol taught me everything I should know as a writer; how to make things “pithy,” what an AP stylebook was, being concise but keeping relevance. We had classes with guest speakers on how to use a camera. We learned what ISO was, F-Stops, aperture settings and the like. I’m not the best photographer in the world, but I have the skill I have because her class taught it to me.

Karrie is the sharp-witted bright mind that taught me what real world broadcasting was like. Our classes went to STN (Student Television Network) Conferences, and we went to lectures there, where big-named speakers talked about the aspects of broadcast that many high schoolers don’t get to learn. In our studio, we learned the basics of pans, zooms, types of cameras, mics, etc. I learned all my multimedia from her.

The both of them are still teaching, and most definitely still being wonderful. When I go back to my hometown and visit my high school (which is very rare), those are the only two past teachers I make sure to see. They were the biggest part of my high school experience, and to be honest, probably the only positive part of it.

BUT. The main point of all of that was so I could mention a set of videos Karrie show all of her students. They are done by a brilliant CBS reporter named Steve Hartman. If anyone knows how to tell stories, that man does. His big project was called “Everybody has a Story.” He and his photographer Les Rose traveled all over- first throwing a dart over Steve’s shoulder at a large map of the United States. Then, when they found the town the dart had landed, they found a local yellowpages and would flip randomly until Steve pointed at a name. From there, they would call the person up and ask if they were willing to tell their story.

Of course, many people insisted they didn’t have a story. Steve would time and again show them they were incorrect.

Here’s a link to one of my favorites Steve did: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6083691n&tag=mncol;lst;8 

That story didn’t start out with the final product. The pair was all set up to tell a completely different story, when a weekly habit interrupted an interview they were doing. There, they found the real story, and I find it magnificent.

This is what I hope to do some day. Lots of reporters don’t get the chance to do this and tell the fluff pieces of the day. I think that’s a ruin of their business. It’s the ruin of the whole business today.

I hope our generation of journalists can change that.

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