Storytelling about soldiers, and audio interviews

Thinking about doing more audio slideshows in your newsroom? There’s lots to discuss in this new package from MSNBC.com — Scars from Iraq (also titled “The War After the War”).

First, there are three different stories about three soldiers who have returned from duty in Iraq. Which story is most interesting to you, and why?

Second, there’s the quality of the audio. Technically, all are very good. But more than that, you should think about how a reporter gets this sustained audio from an interview subject. What kinds of questions were asked? Do you know how to get someone to talk at length? Do you know how to listen? Do you know how to send visual cues so that you never need to say “Uh huh” to encourage the speaker? Do you know how to edit this kind of interview? Would these stories be better with nat sound?

Finally, the presentation. Does anyone feel like clicking those labeled buttons on the left? If not, then why are they there at all? Do you want a timer so you know how long each story is? Are you content to sit back and let all three stories run on autoplay? Are the stories too long? Is the package too long?

I’ve seen a lot of stories about soldiers who have come home. There will be more. I think we should think about how we tell these stories, and why people want to hear them. Why are these three stories different from others you have seen and heard? And if you’re going to report one of these stories, what can you learn from the ones that have been told before?

(Thanks to Joe and Zach for sharing their bookmarks on del.icio.us.)

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