Digital Storytelling: More Story, Less Digital, Please

By Gee Ekachai

Digital storytelling seems to be a buzz word these days.
PR pros talk about they need to use storytelling as a strategy to persuade their stakeholders.

Journalists, especially the dying print breed, are rushing to learn more about digital technology as a new way to report news. Many retool themselves and have become backpack journalists.

Schools started to catch on and offer courses or workshops in digital storytelling that even I want to jump on the bandwagon.

All of this is good IF we would focus more on the “story” portion, and not making the digital or technology the primary element of the story.

As a person trained in journalism, I am often puzzled by the growing enthusiasm, at times at hyperbole stage, in the storytelling wave. The fact is journalism is always about telling a story. PR writers also find creative ways to craft their stories. Whether it be a hard story or a soft story, writers attempt to tell the story in a certain compelling way that would make readers read beyond the lead. The new challenge is the addition of digital media, be it still photos, movie clips or audio voice over, as part of the story.

But the gist still remains: What is the story? What is the content? What exactly do you want to convey through texts, audio and visuals?

How is the story told? What is the story plot? What photographs or other digital media do you want to use and why?

These are basic journalistic questions. Nothing new.

I’ve seen many poorly developed digital story projects with fancy pictures or flashy movie, but no content, no story. I am sure you have too.
So I want to share the ones that I thought were good examples of digital storytelling.

Why do I think they are exemplary? Three reasons.

Content. Content. Content.

Barista contest turns coffee into an art form

Chinese Wedding Door Game

Facing the Judge

Do you have some good examples to share?

Daradirek “Gee” Ekachai is an Associate Professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at Marquette University. Read more articles by Gee on her website

2 Responses to “Digital Storytelling: More Story, Less Digital, Please”

  1. 1 Jenna February 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Agreed, thanks for the reminder. Digital storytelling should use the digital elements to strength the story, not the other way around.

  1. 1 uberVU - social comments Trackback on February 18, 2010 at 5:18 am

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The opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of Marquette University or the Diederich College of Communication.

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