“Chicago, we tell your stories” was the headline of a folded announcement over page one of the Chicago Tribune this morning. ALL CAPS. Inside, editor Gerould Kern wrote: “We bring you stories about people who are part of the everyday drama of life in Chicago, stories that reveal who we are and what we value.” The backpage introduced the writers, columnists and photographers labelled “Chicago storytellers.”
I had not heard or seen it so blatantly articulated before in a major newspaper. It validates all that I have researched and observed and continue to see in newspapers, not just in this country, but around the world. And not just in print, but in digital media formats, from blogs to broadcast outlets and long form text.
It’s about the story.
At the Medill School of Journalism, where this quarter I am teaching the freshmen in Reporting & Writing, one assignment was a speech story. Students needed to cover a newsworthy speech for credit sometime during the quarter, but regardless of when it happened, it was due on Friday, November 20. Of course, about 12 of the 16 from my lab came in right on deadline. And three of the stories were about Gerry Kern’s speech at NU a few months ago. I graded those this morning.
I was in the audience, too, for Kern’s speech and students got the basic gist. But today’s announcement on the Sunday front page from Kern was more than what he discussed back then. Today’s explicit declaration of a company-wide pursuit of everyman narrative validates my assertion that everyman news is the direction of media, regardless of platform.
The story is king.
The audience craves stories that are personal, more in depth and categorized as human interest. They want a face to the news. They want the value-added journalism that is more than an opinion-soaked blog or an instant update from Twitter.
It gives me fodder for an essay I am working on for a magazine: the future of digital narrative. Far beyond the finite boundaries of a front page, journalism is emerging as a dim sum of narrative from a multitude of sources. Readers find the story they want, regardless of host outlet. The appetite is for a la carte narrative. Everyman news.