Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Storytellers, part two

Okay, I got a bunch of questions about my last post. Boiled down, the common denominator of said messages is, "What exactly is a storyteller? Can you show us an example?"

I thought you'd never ask.

So I'm going to create two package scripts on the aftermath of a tornado. One will be a "regular" reporter package, the second will be that of a storyteller.

Anchor lead-in: Cleanup continues three days after a twister ripped through town. Joe Goodhair has the story.

nat sound/ chainsaw:

reporter v/o: Cleanup is well underway after what was described as ten minutes of a nightmare.

soundbite/resident: "It sounded like a freight train. Then when we came out of the storm cellar, it looked like a bomb had gone off."

reporter v/o: Residents comforted one another as many sifted through the rubble looking for anything usable. Many have no place to go.

soundbite/resident: "We lost everything. I have no idea where we're going to sleep tonight. We don't have the money to rebuild."

reporter standup: The National Weather Service has confirmed this was an F-5 tornado, with winds around two hundred miles per hour.

reporter v/o: This man had homeowners insurance, but was looking for something special.

soundbite/resident: "We're safe and I can replace my home. We were fully covered by insurance. But I just want to find my wedding pictures."

reporter v/o: Obviously cleanup will take a long time, but for many, their lives will never be put back together. Joe Goodhair, Eye-Missed-it News.

Okay, nothing really wrong with that story. (You've seen that dozens of times in the last month, right?) But while it took care of all the basics, the story wasn't personalized. Since it's day three, the viewers have already seen this stuff. There's nothing new here. This is where the storyteller comes in.

Can you tell which part of the package above would get the storyteller's attention? Let me show you.

Anchor lead: Three days after an F-5 tornado ripped through town, cleanup is well underway. People who have been made homeless have been temporarily housed as families try to put their lives back together. But in some cases you can't put a price on what was lost. Suzie Storyteller has more:

nat sound/ sifting through rubble.

reporter v/o: Jim Homwowner lost his two story house in Monday's tornado but was fully insured.

soundbite Jim: "We can rebuild, no problem. I had full replacement coverage. We're all safe, and that's the important thing. This was just brick and mortar."

reporter v/o: So why is this man on his third day of a treasure hunt if everything can be fully replaced? Turns out no insurance policy can bring back memories.

nat Jim: "They've gotta be here somewhere..."

reporter v/o: Amidst the splintered wood...

nat Jim: "Careful where you walk..."

reporter v/o: And the broken glass...

nat Jim: "I have to really take my time or I'll get cut..."

reporter v/o: Is the one irreplaceable thing that made this house a home.

soundbite Jim: "We packed up and got out of town so fast I'd forgotten our wedding pictures. I have to find them, even if it takes me all week."

reporter standup/ walking through rubble: "Talk about a needle in a haystack. Even if Jim manages to find his wedding album, chances are it's going to be soaking wet and ruined. But even the smallest chance of finding it intact is keeping him going."

nat Jim: "The photo album was white and each photo was in a plastic sleeve. So I'm hoping that protected the pictures."

nat bulldozer coming close/ Jim talking to driver: "Can you work across the street for awhile? I'm looking for something."

reporter v/o: While most want this mess cleaned up, for Jim it might hold the first step toward putting his life back together.

nat Jim spotting something: "Hang on, I think I see something..."

reporter v/o: Buried under the rubble, the corner of a white photo album peeks out.

nat Jim: "Got it!"

reporter v/o: Some of the photos have a little water damage, but most are miraculously intact.

soundbite Jim: "All the important ones are okay. My wife is gonna be thrilled."

reporter: Imagine being thrilled about all this... but then again, a home is so much more than a house. I'm Suzie Storyteller reporting.

In this case we've taken one interesting little facet from the first story and turned it into a full blown story.

If you want your work, and your resume tapes, to really stand out, be different. Don't just report... tell stories.



Adrienne A said...

CBS's Kendis Gibson did this amazing package after the tornado in Joplin. He featured a man that yes, lost his home and all his belongings. What really struck me was when an organization came over and gave him a $100 check. He just sobbed when he got it. Imagine that this one check will get him groceries or something to eat for the week! So powerful, I teared up, but had to continue anchoring.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Grape, am I going crazy or have I seen the story about the wedding album in the tornado wreckage somewhere? Reading it here made me cry, and as I was wiping my eyes dry, I remembered having the exact same feeling of (tears of) joy that they found the wedding pictures intact.

-The Grape said...

I just made up this whole scenario to illustrate my point, but I'm sure someone, somewhere has done a package about a similar situation... looking for something priceless. I saw a package years ago like this about a family searching for their cat.

Duke Carter said...

Thank you! Now I understand what to look for, the viewers benefit and what makes them care. I appreciate it! Now I have to put it into practice...

Anonymous said...

I hate to point it out Grape, but that was a single-source interview chopped up into half a dozen soundbites. Awesome story, though!