How To: Report Your Own Story

Posted by Julia Rappaport on September 17, 2013

Facing History in New York, in partnership with WNYC Radio’s Radio Rookies program, helps public high school students develop digital storytelling skills through the Neighborhood to Neighborhood project. Each year, students in the program tackle complex questions about identity, race, education, and crime and violence in their communities. Using interviewing skills and multimedia tools, the students produce original visual and audio pieces. As part of our five-part series introducing their finished pieces, check out this DIY video for ideas on how to report your own story.

Need help getting started? Here are some useful prompts:

Generating Ideas

  • Give students 10 minutes to create a "graffiti wall of ideas" by writing their ideas - without talking! - on poster paper around the room. Follow up with a conversation about the stories, the angle they might take when telling them, and who they would interview. Check out: Facing History's "Big Paper" Teaching Strategy.
  • Have students make a map of their world and/or identity. Divide into groups and have students share their maps and discuss similarities and differences within their groups, and ask questions. Identify three story ideas from the exercise. Check out: Facing History's "Identity Chart" Teaching Strategy.

Reporting

  • Make a list of your three favorite story ideas and then answer these questions for each one:
        • Who would you interview (that you have access to)?
        • What do you want to find out?
        • What is your unique perspective on the subject?

Making Your Video

Here's another video on using digital media to tell a story. Check it out when you're ready to start your reporting, and keep these quick tips in mind:

  • Make your list of interview questions beforehand.
  • When interviewing, put the mic a fist's distance away from your subject's chin.
  • Wear your headphones!
  • Look your interview subject in their eyes - it helps them feel engaged.
  • Listen to what your subject has to say.
  • Keep on trying and be persistent!

Just remember, a compelling personal story doesn't have to be heavy or a life-changing event. It can just be something interesting you've noticed about the world. In a personal story, the more honest you are, the more real your story becomes to others and the more people can relate it to their own lives.

Have fun!

The Neighborhood to Neighborhood Project was made possible by the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in The New York Community Trust and The MacArthur Foundation.

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Check out the rest of the "Neighborhood to Neighborhood" blog series!

Topics: Art, Choosing to Participate, School Culture, Media Skills, Neighborhood to Neighborhood, Facing Technology

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