I’m graduating in May in hopes of becoming a journalist. I’ve had internships and I’ve worked for my university’s online news source. Can you steer a terrified senior in a direction? Where should I look? What should I be looking for? What should I work on?” — Helena
We get questions like this fairly frequently and there’s no exact answer. But with yesterday’s announcement of the 2012 Peabody Award winners we’re seeing the incredible range of today’s journalism.This isn’t to say that you can’t quibble with this story winning over that story, or say they could chose more innovative work, but it is to say that if you look at the winners from the Web, radio, television and documentary you see a wild diversity of storytelling approaches and ideas.
And reviewing some of the winners, I think, is a great place to start.
Start with the Web and The New York Times win for “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek,” a multimedia feature using aerial photography, video and words while taking advantage of contemporary presentation techniques such as responsive design and parallax in order to augment and further drive the story forward.
SCOTUSBlog is the other Web winner. There are no bells and whistles. Instead, it’s pretty much a text only blog that’s become a go to resource for stories, background and explainers on all things that have to do with the US Supreme Court. Here, deep, thorough, consistent reporting and analysis wins out.
Radio, I think, is in a golden age and the reason I think this is is because of the launch of iTunes back in 2001. This allowed people to easily subscribe to podcasts — and by extension radio programming — that we previously didn’t have access to. Yes, RSS already existed but iTunes gave us an easy interface to either hear or distribute programming. While your local public radio station might not carry it, you can now hear everything from the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent to The Moth Radio Hour, 99% Invisible and Radiolab among a host of other exceptional programming.
Each of these programs uses different techniques and styles. By listening and analyzing, we learn new tricks that expand our understanding of what’s possible in audio storytelling.
One of this year’s radio winners comes from Radio Diaries, is called “Teen Contender” and follows the 16-year-old Olympic boxer Claressa Shields in a first person narrative from Flint, Michigan to London. Here’s a great breakdown by Julia Barton on the techniques used and how this created great radio.
Other radio winners include WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show, a “traditional” hosted show about New York’s political and cultural life; This American Life’s “What Happened at Dos Erres,” an incredible radio documentary about a Guatemalan immigrant in Boston “who learns that the man he believed to be his father actually led the massacre of his village”; and NPR for its hard news reporting in Syria by Kelly McEvers and Deborah Amos.
I’ll leave it at this and with the recommendation to explore different types of journalism awards across magazines, multimedia, photography, documentary, radio and the rest. Through it, you’ll come across work that brings about an “Aha!” moment, one that makes you say, “This is what I want to do.” And then start positioning yourself and aiming towards doing it by applying for work — or learning the skills needed to apply for work — in that area.
Hope this helps. — Michael
Have a question? Ask away.
Today, on behalf of El Faro, I receive the Anna Politkovskaya award with great pride. However, I think that such recognition should also be given to other journalists in the Central American region who are going through really alarming situations.
Nowadays, 75% of murdered journalists do not die in war zones. Instead, they are being killed deliberately only to be silenced. In fact, Mexico and Honduras are the most dangerous countries in the world to practice journalism.
Recently, an NGO passed along a questionnaire to several local journalists in Mexico and asked what could international organizations do to support their work. Several responded that they wanted a firearm, and one of them explained: “I want a gun so they cannot catch me alive.”
Background: Dada and his colleagues operate under constant and very real threats in one of the most hazardous regions of the world for independent journalists. El Faro was also awarded the 2012 WOLA Human Rights Award last month, and the Columbia School of Journalism’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize back in 2011.
This honor is dedicated to the martyrs of the Syrian revolution, and to all those women who are working in silence, in particularly difficult circumstances inside Syria, and to those who move among the downpour of bullets and artillery fire, the tanks and the fighter jets, in order to carry on the revolution of the Syrian people toward establishing a free and democratic society.
These sorts of gyrations and five-sense choreographies, with variations on Ed’s main themes, played out episodically between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m., when Diane said, “Let’s shower.”
In the shower, Ed stood with his hands at the back of his head, like someone just arrested, while she abused him with a bar of soap. After a while he shut his eyes, and Diane, wielding her fingernails now and staring at his face, helped him out with two practiced hands, one squeezing the family jewels, the other vigorous with the soap-and-warm-water treatment. It didn’t take long for the beautiful and perfect Ed King to ejaculate for the fifth time in twelve hours, while looking like Roman public-bath statuary. Then they rinsed, dried, dressed, and went to an expensive restaurant for lunch.
Ladies and gentlemen, we present you with the winning prose in Literary Review’s 2011 Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Or, as the journal also calls it, Britain’s Most Dreaded Literary Prize.
This years winner is David Guterson for the above passage in Ed King, a reimagining of the Oedipus myth in the latter half of the 20th century.
As Jonathan Beckman, a senior editor at Literary Review and bad sex judge, writes in the Financial Times:
Prudishness lies at the heart of poor sex writing. You can sense the urge to shy away from sex, to displace it with simile or hide it all together. It’s striking how frequently the view becomes cloudy or obscured. In previous years Carlos Fuentes got “lost in a leafiness like that of a forest of fleshy ferns”; Amos Oz was “like some piece of sonar equipment … anticipating and consciously avoiding every sandbank, steering clear of each underwater reef”; John Banville has “a passionate dalliance … on the edge of a precipice beyond which can be glimpsed a dark-green distance in a reeking mist and something shining out of them”.
For what it’s worth, when Guterson isn’t winning bad sex writing awards, he’s winning things like the PEN/Faulkner award for his 1995 Snow Falling on Cedars.
Somewhere there’s something hopeful in that.