Teaching Storytelling With The Help Of A Well-Written Breaking News Piece

The details students recalled from Wade Goodwyn's Moore, OK tornado story.
The details students recalled from Wade Goodwyn’s Moore, OK tornado story.

This quarter, Matty and I are team-teaching a digital journalism lab for Northwestern’s Medill Journalism School, which runs a DC program. During Monday’s class, I walked through some broadcast storytelling tricks that I’ve learned over the years, and most recently at NPR.

One of my favorite broadcast voices and writers is Wade Goodwyn, our Dallas-based national correspondent.  He’s not just someone I look up to — I’m also really lucky to count Wade among my sometimes-drinking buddies.

Wade was sent to Moore, Oklahoma just after a 1.5 mile wide tornado destroyed the town last spring. The feature he filed for the next morning’s Morning Edition program was so simple, and yet so brilliantly executed a piece of broadcast storytelling that Poynter spent time and space unpacking it line by line.

So I played it for the class one time and once the story ended, I had the students write on Post-its the individual details, scenes, characters or lines they remembered. The repeats — like a description of pink insulation dust glistening on a victim — got stuck on top of one another.

All this to say Wade’s writing was so powerful and well told that the students filled up an entire window with details they remembered from a four-minute piece. I hope Wade gets to see how his words lingered in the minds of his young listeners, and taught them some valuable lessons about great writing.

Confrusted

Converting to Snow Leopard operating system created a mountain of problems for me and all the video/audio programs we rely on. Various device driver downloads solved most of my camera compatibility issues, but now my hub for my podcasting mics is unable to be read as an “aggregate device”, because Snow Leopard won’t make that a choice.

This is a situation our technology grand pubah calls “confrustion”, the unfortunate hybrid of confusion and frustration. You can see it on our faces, below. I’m guessing since we’re a startup trying to build a new public media brand, being confrusted will become the norm for the next few weeks.

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