Vin Ray: News Storytelling in a Digital Landscape

Vin Ray began by referring to a Times article that questioned whether the internet is killing storytelling. He balanced whether it indeed is killing storytelling or alternatively, whether the internet is liberating us from the formulaic structure of established media. 


He quoted Ben Macintyre who said that while the internet is extremely effective and communicating large quantities of information, it cannot and is not giving what it communicates an effective narrative. He then moved to an article by Ben Carr that seemed to give an explanation for this. Carr said that people’s attention spans are diminishing and the more we use the web the more we have to fight to stay reading longer pieces of writing. He described this as “narrative storytelling being washed aside by a tsunami of byte sized information.” 


Ray then gave reason to be optimistic about the future of long-form journalism. He talked of new start-up companies. One was Mediastorm who when posting their articles, do not restrain themselves in how long their articles are or how long their broadcasts are unlike traditional newspapers or TV news. Rather, they created their content to be as long as they believed necessary in order to create a good story.


Mark Armstrong, the founder of another start-up, Longread stated other key factors driving resurgence in long-form journalism, in addition to new technology like Ipads he described ‘social recommendation’, where people after reading something they like will share it with others leading to its own personal cheering squad. He also spoke of ‘timeshifting’. These can be apps that allow you to continue reading articles even when you are offline.


Ultimately Ray concluded, nothing can compare to good storytelling and the same fundamental concepts journalism has always used remain the key staples of effective journalistic storytelling.