Turning global issues into stories, is anything but easy.
One of the biggest challenges journalists face is finding this one story that would go viral, change laws and ultimately turn our world to a better place. A bit ambitious but one gotta dream big, right?
One look at the news around and one can easily see the amount of atrocities, injustice and misery that happens to other fellow human beings on a daily basis, but only very few stories make it to the headlines.
That was one of the main points that were discussed last night at The one world media event at SOAS university “ Turning Global issues into stories”
The discussion that was moderated by Sir Brendan Gormley, Trustee of One World Media, was very vivid and intense where the panelists shared their experiences as well as the audience that was mainly young journalists.
It has been recently debated whether or not the western media have lost interest in the refugee crisis “It is not easy to turn refugee issues into media stories,” said Corinne Evans, head of Media and External Relations at the British Red Cross, “it is not not about media silence but rather media confusion and the failure to reach a dominant narrative” she added.
An idea also shared by Patrick Strudwick , UK LGBT Editor for Buzzfeed News who said “ Sometimes it is really hard to tackle refugee’s sexuality due to their cultural and religion strains regarding the issues” adding “ I only know how it is like to be a white gay man in the UK, little do I know about the cultural and ethnic aspects of being Gay in an African country”
“ It is not just about finding the story but also the means by which one can sell it to editors, stakeholders and Publishers,” said Annie Kelly, Editor of the Guardian’s Modern-day slavery in focus project, adding “ Sometimes one would have a story that they have invested a lot of time, energy and emotions on and then you can’t get it published anywhere.”
“ The first is to find very good story that no one can say no to, to find novel ways to tell the stories, using social media to generate enough attention so that mainstream media becomes interested.”said Strudwick and on how to find a good story, Chris Wainwright, Head of communications at WaterAid, said “ People sympathize more with individuals rather than abstract statistics about an issue,” “They find relevance and become engaged”
They all agreed that we should be focused on telling the stories of people rather than issues, “ You can state statistics all you want, but you need to put a face to that, delivering what people’s real experience is like” said Strudwick.
Choosing the proper medium in relation to the issue and the target audience is crucial in the reach one story can make, “ Sometimes I can reach more people on social media than on the mainstream ones, it all depends on what you are saying and who are you addressing” said Wainwright, “ When you want to talk to the middle east use a medium that is already well reached there” He added.
The question of what enables a story to make the desired impact remained an answered “ Whoever would have an answer to that, would be ruling the industry” says kelly.
As Journalists I think we should always remember that we are storytellers first, we report, tell stories, do our best and hope for that day when either our stories go viral or we crack the “viral” code.