An Excerpt from Videojournalism – Chapter 1 – Telling Stories

This chapter is about the many ways to tell a story and serves as an introduction to videojournalism as it relates to nonfiction storytelling. Videojournalism is not reality TV; it is not traditional front-page news articles. The secret to good videojournalism lies in finding and telling well-shaped, powerful stories in multimedia presentation. Most successful stories have a main character.

There are many ways to tell a story. You can do it chronologically— start at the beginning and end at the end. Or, you can
disclose the most important piece of information first, and then reveal the rest of the story, bit by bit. You can tell the story through the eyes of your characters, or from the viewpoint of an outsider. As a videojournalist, you get to decide how you will tell your story—in a way that will compel your audience to stop, look, and listen. 

Photo by Ben Fredericson



You Tell Stories All the Time
You already know how to tell stories. Don’t you do it all the time? When your car breaks down on the way to the hospital? Or your girlfriend or boyfriend leaves you? Or simply because your dog eats your homework? Then, quite naturally, you tell the tale to a friend.

How is your story different from the story in a novel or a movie? First and foremost, of course, your story is real. The events actually happened. They were not figments of your imagination. You did not invent the characters or the plot. Your story is nonfiction.

In this book, we will be dealing solely with true nonfiction stories—with events that actually happened in the past, are taking place right now, or might occur in the future. Herein we deal exclusively with actual events that happen to real people—not to actors, volunteers, or contestants. Again, this book deals only with reality. 


Reality TV Versus Real Stories

TV shows like Big Brother or Survivors are loosely referred to as “reality shows.” But is reality TV real? Not quite. Reality TV shows such as The Apprentice, Fear Factor, and The Amazing Race are highly orchestrated and often partially fictionalized pieces of entertainment. They would not occur without a producer, multiple camera crews, willing participants, and bundles of money. These shows are contrived contests, not real stories. They would never have taken place without the creative energy of a writer, a producer, and a director. The outcome of such shows may be unknown at the beginning. But the setup is cleverly engineered to produce an almost fictional effect.

Real stories, on the other hand—those you see on television news programs such as 60 Minutes or on the Web at—reveal actual people living through the thrills and pitfalls of unadulterated events in their lives without the interference of a script doctor.

Read the rest of Chapter 1 here.


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