Dear American News Media: Telling A Story Is Like ‘CLIMBING’ A Mountain – Not Just ‘LOOKING’ At One…

Mountains impress.  They wow you with their existence, their enormity, their majesty, their size.  On the one hand you want to revere it like a sentient creature, on the other, you want to climb it — not so much to master it as just to look it directly in the eye.

You want the mountain to know that you understand how to ‘tell ITS story’…

Because mountains are so big, to climb them, you have to prepare — get in shape, get the right gear — and (here’s the really important part) CHOOSE A PATH.  With a lot of mountains, attacking it directly — climbing straight up — will not work out well (no matter how experienced you are and how much your equipment cost).

So, the experienced mountain climber — having considered all the climbing conditions (which means they’ve familiarized themselves with every bit of the mountain — top to bottom) — will scope out and then plan for a particular ‘line of attack’ that will get them to the top safely and efficiently.

And then there are ‘tourists’ who love to look at mountains from afar.  The view is incredible — ‘comprehensive’ and complete in that we ‘see’ the whole mountain.  We know its shape and size and general ‘affability’ in the sunlight.

It looks ‘approachable’.

swiss-alps-day-trip-from

It’s not.  The picture doesn’t tell you anything specifically about ALTITUDE other than there might be some.  If you’re there, ON the mountain?  That unseen force will dictate a lot of your feelings about the mountain.  Distances, too (from this distance) get distorted; a lateral move across the mountain’s face that looks ‘relatively straightforward’ from way, way, way back here is nowhere near that straightforward when you’re actually clinging to the mountain’s icy face…

That wide shot of the mountain is lovely.  But it doesn’t actually convey a whole lot about the mountain.

 

The first time a story comes over you — over me anyway — there’s a rush of ‘awe’.  It is very much like the feeling I get when driving, say, up the PCH in Big Sur and you see THIS around every curve —

It can stagger you with its Big Picture Awesomeness.  And you could lose yourself forever in any number of its Small Picture Details.

But for all any story’s beauty — or absurdity — or tragedy — you cannot tell it from miles away.  You have to GET INSIDE IT in order to report it.  But (and here’s where the MSM falls down 90% of the time) — You have to report it from inside while always keeping THE WIDE SHOT in your mind’s eye.  You have to see every bit of detail in its larger context — The Big Picture.

And then you have to remind yourself constantly:  What COMPELLED you to tell THIS story in the first place?

When you find your way atop a story — when you look it in the eye and know you found the best possible way to ‘tell it’, there’s always one last challenge awaiting you…

valleeblanche

frenchalps-thumb

How the hell do you get down?

 

 

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