In class on Tuesday, we worked on stretching and shrinking problems, asking ourselves what questions can we ask to solve our problem. I think the strategy we learned to stretch a problem with the five why questions is a great approach, and could be used really effectively in news reporting.
For example, your initial question, “problem,” or story angle might be: Possible debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 spotted
1: Ask yourself why?
Answer possibility #1: Experts used satellite imagery to spot the objects.
Answer possibility #2: It is considered ‘possible’ because we don’t actually have proof yet.
Answer possibility #3: Four military search planes were dispatched Thursday to investigate two mysterious bobbing objects in a remote part of the Indian Ocean.
2. Now chose one or more of these answers and phrase it as a why question: Why were the military search planes dispatched on Thursday?
Answer possibility #1: There are two unidentified objects in the same area that the flight disappeared.
Answer possibility #2: They were given orders by the authorities.
3. Why did the authorities order them to search for these objects?
Answer possibility #1: Everyone is curious about what happened to Flight 370 and we want to consider every possibility!
Answer possibility #2: So that the search planes could determine whether or not these objects were relevant to the mystery.
4. Why is everyone curious about what happened to Flight 370?
Answer possibility #1: We do not have any formative conclusions on why the passenger flight went missing.
Answer possibility #2: This is a good story. It’s mysterious, heart-wrenching and relatively easy to understand. It could make for a great movie someday.
Answer possibility #3: We have a natural fear of flying, and want to know want to expect in the worst case scenario.
Answer possibility #4: Aviation experts want to learn as much as they can from this devastating loss and how they can prevent it in the future.
5. Why do we have a natural fear of flying?
Answer possibility #1: Because they only time we ever hear about passenger flights in the news is when something bad happens….
I think this exercise is a great way to brainstorm different angles when reporting a story. It challenges you to ask questions that other news outlets may not have thought to ask. It forces you to ask the questions: why do we care and who are the stakeholders in this story.
I took my roommate Nicole’s engagement photos yesterday evening, and as I was photographing, I paid particular attention to the natural sounds. We chose a rather quite area over by the magic tree at Cherry Hill. Birds chirped and the occasional pedestrian walked by with their dog, but it was this natural soundtrack of organic sounds that allowed me to focus on the interactions between Nicole and her fiance Taylor. I let their sounds of conversation and laughing and their silence direct me. When I take intimate photos like these, I want the couple to feel comfortable and have a lot of fun. I also want to capture the environment and the mood of the moment. So, being aware of their auditory reactions helped me understand what they felt. Here are some photos from yesterday! See if you can guess what I was hearing as I took these photos 🙂