Question No. 7: “Will you be quiet?”

Ira Question | Written by Nathan Mattise

In less than 48 hours, I have a two-minute multimedia pieces due for class. It’s something the school values highly –  making all their new grad students produce one within weeks of coming to campus. Some do it successfully and others not so much. I’m hoping to be included in the former.

Naturally I sought out some of TAL on TV to inspire me on the production end (I wish I could find content like they do, my reach is simply not as far or as thorough at this point in time). Along with the multimedia work over at NPR.com, there’s one immediate difference between what I saw and what I was instructed to aspire for…me.

This American Life uses narration in nearly everything. I can only recall an episode here or there that relies on old tapes to tell the story without a TAL storyteller. On TV (closer to the product I am trying to produce, it’s a Soundslides project), only the urban horseback riding story from Season II comes to mind as a story done solely through the source.

Faculty would laugh at me if I wrote a print story comprised only of quotes. I think my broadcast compadres would echo that sentiment. However, with Soundslides I am supposed to allow my sources to speak without filter or structure on my part. Yet, the folks I admire as storytellers are doing similar projects but repeatedly opting for narration.

I’m a bit confused…

Why do you opt for narration in a majority of your pieces on This American Life? If given ideal sources and an ideal story, would you still opt for it or is the Utopian goal a piece that stands solely on its own?

Links: NPR.com| NHInteractive| Knight Digital Journalism

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.
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