The Tragedy of Storytelling

January 18, 2011

By Cathy
When a story breaks, the best newspapers in the country work to find the most effective ways to tell it. After the shootings in Arizona, those news outlets scrambled to determine the facts, of course, but they also sought out other angles, many of them focused on the personal elements of the crime.
If you read any news about the tragedy in Arizona, you might have read about the work of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the shooter's political leanings, how his parents are coping, the plans of a Kansas church to picket at victims' funerals, the intention of biker gangs to stop the protestors, the elderly couple who died trying to protect each other, and many other stories that grab readers not only because the subject matter is so horrifying, but because the angles are so personal.
After I read as many of these articles as I could stomach, I moved to Twitter. There were plenty of folks posting links to stories I had already seen, but I wasn't looking for information at that point; I was looking for sentiment. I found plenty of it. Strangers shared their feelings of doubt, sadness, anger, and in some cases, hate for all the haters out there.
The facts in the Arizona story are important. But the personal angles are often what resonate most strongly - they always do. There are lots of ways to tell an important story, and lots of platforms from which to tell it. When we use all of these venues, we gain the ability to educate and communicate, as well as the chance to connect with others around the world. When the news is important, personal and accessible, our collective appetite for it is all but insatiable.

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