Digital storytelling in contemporary journalism

By Loydie Burmah |Executive Editor|

Megan Garvey, Deputy Managing Editor of the Los Angeles Times, discussed creative storytelling through digital media at CSUSB on April 6.

Garvey began by contextualizing the evolution of journalism from earlier to current contemporary eras of reporting, and how readers have altered their methods of accessing and consuming information.

“I think that how we need to reach our readers has really changed. So, if you think about how people get information, it’s not just reading words,” said Garvey.

Digital media has significantly altered traditional journalism practices, challenging journalists to refine their reporter repertoire and pursue storytelling through a more technological lens.

The importance of remaining mindful of professional journalistic tenets still remains static (e.g. accuracy, fairness, impact). However, journalists must also think creatively about enticing readers through diverse digital mediums. In this case, it is about how a reporter shows their story, rather than simply relaying it.

“If you think that your story is important—your beat is important—what can do you to get readers to it, and how can you keep them there?” questioned Garvey.

Garvey explained that traditional and contemporary digital forms of journalism practice are complementary, and should be utilized together for enhanced reporting. She acknowledged that accommodating new demands of digital journalism can be daunting, but that reporter instincts must be altered in order to produce captivating stories.

“I think that what you have to do is, kind of create a muscle memory of what the elements are that will make your story better, which will allow you many options on how to tell your story,” explained Garvey.

She also discussed her adaptation to learning diverse technologies that offered her innovative opportunities to produce unique stories just how she envisioned. As well as how she would have reported differently had these technologies been available to her prior.

“You get these different experiences as a reporter, right? You’re in places that you would have never been,” Garvey began.

“[…] So another story I did, really early in my career, and this is another one where I could see it would be so different today, doing it,” she continued.

Garvey described reporting a story about 19 children found home alone in a separate flat, who lived in a severely impoverished environment on the southside of Chicago. Within the same building in another flat nearby, a woman and her children lived in a neat, comfortable, and safer space.

“Now I think, like again, whether it’s Facebook Live, or Twitter, or video—of showing that juxtaposition,” said Garvey.

The emphasis, it seems, for journalism, has become more on showing through visual media rather than text alone.

Yet, traditional print and contemporary digital methods of journalism are not to be sacrificed for one over the other.

During the discussion, a student asked Garvey if she thinks that print newspapers will become obsolete.

“I think that the print newspaper might very well become obsolete. I’m hoping it takes a little bit of time because it’s still paying the majority of the bills of most major newsrooms,” Garvey responded.

“But I think that journalism will not become obsolete. I mean, there is a reason why it’s in the First Amendment of the Constitution—the idea of a free press is really integral to our republic, to democracy. And I do believe that,” she concluded.

Garvey explaining how to engage with readers to develop digital-based interactive stories. Students listening intently about how to incorporate social media tools in reporting. A digitally interactive story whereby readers were asked to create a sign describing their feelings about America in regards to the current political climate.
Created by designer/journalist Lily Mihalik, reporter Anthony Pesce and journalist Andrea Roberson.
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A digitally interactive story whereby readers were asked to create a sign describing their feelings about America in regards to the current political climate. Created by designer/journalist Lily Mihalik, reporter Anthony Pesce and journalist Andrea Roberson.

 

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