Third video in the four part series. Ira Glass on having “good taste”.
He talks about how we (those who ambition to be storytellers, journalists) get into the business because we have good taste. But he realizes–from his own experience–that even though we have good taste, our pieces don’t live up to our good taste for the first several years of being in the business. We know our work sucks, but we can’t do anything about it.
Glass uses one of his old radio stories as an example. The piece is about interesting stuff, but because of its presentation, it is really boring. His tone, inflection, manner of speaking, and writing aren’t great, and basically encourage the listener to zone out or change the channel.
While talking about his piece, he criticizes his inflection and begs reporters to talk naturally, like they normally would. In a future video he says something like, “We already have one Ted Koppel in the world, so you don’t need to sound like him, too.” He claims it’s best to be yourself and I heartily agree.
I’m a big fan of Ira Glass, the host of the acclaimed radio show This American Life.
His take on storytelling and journalism is one of the best I’ve heard, and he discusses it in the introduction to his anthology of contemporary nonfiction, The New Kings of Nonfiction. I got this book for my graduation from Y-Press last summer, and I just now sat down to read it–I wish I had sooner. The introduction really connected with me because I felt like my own views about journalism were being spewed back out at me, but with more clarity.
I’m working on a piece which will quote big segments of Glass’ piece and include my own thoughts, but in the meantime I wanted to start posting a daily series of videos of Glass discussing storytelling. They’re only about five minutes and incredibly insightful.
Here’s the first, which is about the two important building blocks of great stories.