Jason DeRusha: Lessons in New Media

Media Training, Seminars, Advice

Making Non-Visual Stories Visual

Posted by derushaj on April 5, 2008

Your assignment?  “Cover the School Board meeting.”  Boooooring.  Or is it?  What to do when the assignment is as exciting as watching paint dry; how to make a non-visual story visually interesting. 


  • What is the story really about?

Is it about the school board meeting?  Is it about the new policy your principal is proposing?  Go deeper than that.


  • Think about your story in advance

What will you be talking about?  What images do you need to match your words? 


  • Design an action plan

Can you come up with a visual way to tell your story?  Is there a metaphor or simile you can use?  Is it like the last second touchdown?  Is it like arguing with your parents?  Is it like waiting for that Myspace message from the girl you really like?


  • Think of meetings as the middle of your story

An effective way to deal with boring meeting video is to use it in the middle, or use it as a set-up.  Example: Tell the story of the person affected by the meeting, then show me video of the meeting and a soundbite from an official, then go back to that original person for reaction.


  • Consider Reporter On-Camera Involvement

Sometimes if you have no video, appearing on camera can be an effective way to bridge the gap.  This shouldn’t just be because you’re on an ego trip, but it should be because you can tell the story in an interesting way.


  • Be creative, be crazy, don’t hold back

One of the greatest sins in journalism is to be boring.  You’re better off missing the mark by trying something crazy than you are being boring.  So experiment.  Do something crazy.  Don’t be afraid to fail.


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