Skills for journalists in print and digital media.

Power of story

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A friend gave me a copy of Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind, which talks about the need for more right brain thinking. One chapter talks about “story” as the way human beings best absorb information. “Story…sharpens our understanding of one thing by showing it in the context of something else.” Included in that context is emotion  and feelings.

Pink cites other thinkers on the power of stories.

Mark Turner in The Literary Mind: “Narrative imagining — story — is the fundamental instrument of thought. Rational capacities depend on it. It is our chief means of looking into the future, of predicting, of planning, and of explaining…Most of our experience, our knowledge and our thinking is organized as stories.”

Don Norman in Things That Make Us Smart: “Stories are important cognitive events, for they encapsulate, into one compact package, information, knowledge, context, and emotion.”

Pink argues that as we leave the Information Age behind and enter what he calls the Conceptual Age, “the ability to encapsulate, contextualize, and emotionalize” will be “vastly more important.”

For journalists this raises challenges about storytelling that goes beyond anecdote and amusement to stories that tell stories through people, that convey complex information with rich context through story

“Story,” Pink writes, “represents a pathway to understanding that doesn’t run through the left side of the brain.” And good stories reveal in readers “a hunger for what stories can provide — context enriched by emotion, a deeper understanding of how we fit in and why that matters.”

So while we try to find our way with both print and online media tools, “story” remains a common goal if we are to reach and serve readers.


Written by mroberts8

November 3, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Posted in Stories

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