Constructing Documentary Storytelling
Lawrie Zion
La Trobe University

What is the Australian accent, and what does it say about us? And how do you answer these questions in one hour of television? This paper will discuss the storytelling strategies used in the making of The Sounds of Aus. The documentary, which was seen by more than 1.2 million Australians when first broadcast on ABC TV last November, won Chicago’s Hugo prize for Best International Documentary earlier this year, and was nominated for a Logie. It has also been judged a finalist in the category Best Documentary Social & Political Issues in the 2008 EnhanceTV ATOM Awards.  As writer, researcher, interviewer and co-producer, .researched and co-producer, one of the ongoing challenged faced during the construction of the program was distilling the story of the accent from a diverse range of sources and interview subjects, from linguists and historians to celebrities, comedians, and grey nomads in North Queensland caravan parks.  The paper will outline the processes involved in shaping the documentary, focussing particularly on the challenges faced in balancing the diverse array of ingredients that were woven into the finished product.

The creative print journalist
Janet Fulton
University of Newcastle

Can a print journalist be creative? The idea that journalism is creative is one that is not universally accepted: a journalist ‘making a story up’ goes against the fundamental understandings of journalism. Further to this, society’s understanding of creativity is that a producer must have no limitations to be able to create and the rules and conventions a journalist works within are seen to constrain their production of creative media texts. These views are an example of the Romantic belief of creativity where something is seen to come from nothing and a producer must be free from any restrictions.  However, by using a Rationalist framework to drive a PhD study into the print journalist’s practices, it can be argued that creative activity in print journalism is not only possible but plausible. By using Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity to examine the creative practices of the print journalist, this paper argues it is the structures a journalist works within that enables production and it is by their agency that journalists can produce creative media texts.  Interestingly, the word ‘creative’ is one used within the awards system for journalism: the Walkley Awards, Australia’s awards for excellence in journalism, explicitly lists creativity as a measure for selection. However, the definition of the word and its implicit use is rarely discussed. Furthermore, a literature review undertaken as part of the PhD has revealed that many journalism books, both academic and practical, argue for the concept of creativity in journalism – ‘news’ is based on the word ‘new’ – but without defining what creativity in journalism actually is. Therefore, this paper provides a definition for creativity in a journalistic context as well as presenting rational arguments for how a print journalist is a creative producer of media texts

Storytelling in print newspapers: Just how much more personal can it get?
Helen Caple
University of Sydney/University of Technology, Sydney

Moving on from the more traditional ways in which newsworthy events are usually packaged in words and pictures in print newspapers, this paper investigates intermodal play
between text and images in a new news story genre, the image-nuclear news story (Caple 2008) as it is presented on the news pages of the broadsheet newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald. This is a news story genre in which a salient and arguably aesthetically motivated image combines with a heading that enters into a playful relationship with the image, often drawing on intertextual references that readers are expected to recover from their personal cultural and general knowledge. A short caption then links the story to the newsworthy events behind the story. However, there is no extended text with such stories. This play on words and image relies on the reader’s ability to activate other discourses that form his/her background knowledge in order to peel back the layers of meaning in the text. Through this deliberate manipulation of the meaning potential the newspaper is able to express cultural and social solidarity with its readers, by assuming that they share its understanding of the intertextual references being made in these texts. This has been labelled a kind of insiderism by some theorists (see Chang 2004). As such, play of this nature may offer the kind of intellectual challenge that keeps readers interested in the news and still buying the newspaper.

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One Response to “Concurrent Session 12: Creativie Work, Creative Storytelling”

  1. icycreek said

    I’ve set up a very rudimentary blog about The Sounds of Aus at http://thesoundsofaus.wordpress.com

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