The rise of storytelling in journalism’s digital age

The Rise of Storytelling panel (from left) Nick Feik, Associate Professor Margaret Simons, Dr Maria Tumarkin, Kirsti Melville and Professor Karin Wahl-Jorgensen.

The challenges of telling true stories in an era of disruptive media and “fake news” were the focus of three events hosted by Monash University’s School of Media, Film and Journalism last week, attracting widespread interest from journalists, PhD students and academics.

Cardiff University Professor Karin Wahl-Jorgensen led a PhD masterclass last Wednesday, and joined a journalism roundtable incorporating a seminar on Journalism, Emotion and Storytelling on Friday.

Prof Karin Wahl-Jorgensen was also part of a booked-out public panel to discuss the topic, The Rise of Storytelling, at the Monash Conference Centre in Collins St, Melbourne, last Thursday night.

The Rise of Storytelling panel also featured The Monthly editor Nick Feik, academics Associate Professor Margaret Simons and Dr Maria Tumarkin, and ABC Radio National producer Kirsti Melville.

Chaired by MFJ Head of School Associate Professor Mia Lindgren, the panel explored the shifting role of storytelling in contemporary journalism, focusing on the methods and ethics of collecting and sharing personal narratives across diverse formats and platforms.

Prof Wahl-Jorgensen stressed the importance of both evidence and storytelling in good journalism – a theme she expanded upon in her Friday seminar in the Monash Media Lab’s theatrette.

Emotion has conventionally been understood as anathema to “good” journalism, based on a long-standing adherence to a liberal democratic framework and commitment to ideals of objectivity and impartiality, Professor Wahl-Jorgensen says.

Professor Karin Wahl-Jorgensen.
But we need a more “nuanced understanding of the work that different emotions do in different contexts”, she says – ranging from the personal stories used to illustrate Pulitzer Prize-winnning journalism to the construction of anger in political stories, and from protest coverage to news about the British EU referendum and rise of Donald Trump.
Professor Wahl-Jorgensen is a media commentator and academic at Cardiff University, Wales, and is the author of three books: Disasters and the Media, Journalists and the Public and Citizens or Consumers.
She is completing her fourth book, Emotions, Media and Politics.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.