Just add warts for a good story.

I just want to make reference to a couple of other bloggers.
Steve Bridger has recently posted about the value of story telling for the voluntary sector and Ingrid Koehler responded on the IDeA blog. Their worlds overlap with mine through a shared interest in the NCVO ICT Foresight programme.
I wont quote what they are saying in any great depth, but encourage you to click through and read. One point Ingrid made about the value of stories grabbed my attention.

In my work, I’d love to have more of these stories, but they are notoriously difficult to gather and sometimes to articulate.

The Grassroots Channel podcast is entirely based on gathering stories of active citizens. I won’t pretend it is a doddle, and encouraging others to gather stories and share them with the channel has been difficult. However I would say that Ingrid overstates the problem.
I have more than 20 years experience in journalism behind me, so collecting and articulating stories is clearly something which comes pretty easily. However we all have a natural affinity for stories and we all (regardless of what you may think) like to share stories – at the very least through gossip.
Of course not all stories are as powerful as you might like.
This means a production process is required which can identify the most interesting stories attached to the most interesting communicators. b:cen started such a process a while ago by inviting active citizens to send in their tales – and this provided a springboard for the podcasts. Somebody must then make editorial deicisons based not on the politics of the situation but on the quality of the story, thinking about them from the perspective of the reader/listener rather than the commissioner.
Public bodies have a tendency to politicise matters – which is a killer for clarity in story telling. The bureacratic instinct requires that stories must demonstrate a, b or c and cannot undermine or criticise x,y or z. This generates tales that are either bland or so devoid of integrity that they are a turn-off.
At the the root of a good yarn is honesty. Should the public sector wish to use stories more widely then they have to accept that it’s the warts which deliver the all.


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