Lessons in Storytelling-Enduring the Recession

Click on image to watch the video

By Alexandra Zavis
Photos by Katie Falkenberg

The Los Angeles Times followed three families struggling to regain their footing. The Petersens, the Longs and the Tuckers have different backgrounds but each have had to struggle through the  the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Read the text piece

Read online comments (hundreds of them)

Portraits From a Recession

Click on the photos to read each family’s story

As journalists, there are many lessons in this piece.

-How does the use of Black and White images affect the way you feel about the story?

-Notice that the editor uses “straight-cuts” rather than slow emotional dissolves. While cuts had a harder edge to the story, it is a way of avoiding the feeling that the storyteller is trying to lead the viewer to feel a certain way.

-Notice that the piece does not use any added music or sound, only those elements that happened in the environment as the image of video was captured.

-The editor does not drift in on photos (the Ken Burns effect.)  Slow pushes on still images adds an emotional element.

-How does the length of the piece affect your experience? At 11 minutes, it could deter some viewers from playing the piece, especially if they have less than great connections.

-How do you feel about focusing on three families in one piece rather than breaking them up into smaller pieces? On one hand it gives us a wider understanding of the problem, on the other the more diffuse focus keeps us from feeling as much as we might if the story arc was about one family.

-If you watched the video, would you bother reading the breakout stories above?

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