Our most recent lecture by photographer Daniel Meadows was awe-inspiringly beautiful.
Daniel spoke about the projects he does with the people of Wales. Projects which give ordinary people a chance to tell their stories through a very personalised mutli-media narrative.
Such as the lady whose sole ambition was to play rugby for Wales – an ambition which was realised, and then emotionally documented for our entertainment, through a series of photographs which now make up her own multi-media story.
Whilst the lecture’s refreshing uniqueness was captivating it did raise one issue in particular, an issue I have been considering ever since.
The issue involves the idea of fiction and reality – the latter of which is the basis of all journalism, which requires an honest representation of the world.
So what similarities are there between fiction and reality – can stories grounded by reality really be classified as ‘stories’?
Well according the to The Guardian’s recent guide to being a journalist, stories certainly can, “Journalists usually refer to what they write as stories. Not articles or reports, occasionally pieces, but stories.
“Stories sound interesting; reports sound dull. To some, stories mean fiction.
“The crucial thing about a story is that other people want to hear it, because it is interesting or entertaining.”
This is a very valid point. Documented experiences and occurrences – be them fictional or real – are fundamentally grounded by the same thing. They must entertain the reader, consume them, and most importantly from an online journalism point of view – involve them. Therefore they are both ‘stories.’
It is this involvement that is key to the contemporary journalism consumer. Growing numbers of consumers now want to have their say – just as they were given a say in Daniel’s stories. As Daniel says, people want to tell their story – it’s in our nature as humans.
And with the expansion of online communities people are learning to do just that. You only have to look at discussion boards on the BBC’s website, or even on localised news sites, to see what an impact allowing people to have their say is having.
So if the online journalism world is encouraging this growth and involvement how does that compare to the idea of fiction and escapism. If what our audience are now after is a transparency to such an extent that every move of a journalists story development is documented online should we really be able to consider the words written as ‘stories.’
I think the answer may be yes – more than ever. Yes they engage, yes they involve, yes they consume their audience to a huge extent.
According to good old dictionary.com a story is described as being, “A narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale.”
Which is now true more than ever about fiction and reality-based stories. Despite their differences both share similar aims.
I think Daniel proves in his work that ‘stories’ are unlimited and unhindered in content, style and source. Now more so than ever. We can tell stories in so many ways – through audio, pictures, moving pictures and in the written word. The possibilities are expanding more and more everyday and so scope for journalists to project their own stories onto the online community is expanding daily – as is the scope for consumers to tell theirs.