It’s no secret the news business is changing. The major papers are on the back foot, blogs are flexing their investigative muscle and part-time reportage is on the rise.
Even the way we tell stories is changing. News often breaks on Twitter or is spread by Facebook, and photographers, writers and “influencers” are all discovering the image-driven appeal of platforms such as Instagram.
Helping make sense of it all is Storyology. Described as a “festival showcasing journalism”, the Walkley Foundation event will hit Palace Barracks late next month to host a bunch of local and international journalists and writers for two days of panels and presentations.
The event’s publicity manager Margot Saville, a journalist herself, says Storyology “looks behind the scenes, lifts the covers” and shows how stories are made. “Post-Trump and all the issues surrounding fake news, the American election and things like that, I think people are more interested in how stories are made and want to know the things they’re reading are verified and correct.”
Saville says the focus of the event has changed over the years, from simply being about getting big names up to talk, to creating a more user-friendly, hands-on program. It’s further added to an educational atmosphere for students and young journalists.
“People come along with pencil and paper and learn how to do podcasts, how to do social media,” Saville says. “But at the core it’s still about how to tell stories.”
This year’s event covers everything from podcasting to the media coverage surrounding the #metoo movement. Saville is excited about two speakers in particular, the first being Buzzfeed investigations and projects editor Mark Schoofs, who is appearing on the “Saturday Morning With the Papers” panel.
“Having Mark Schoofs is amazing,” she says. “Buzzfeed has put out a list of their ten best stories from last year and they’re gobsmacking, incredible. Just to ask him about any one of those stories would be great.
“But I’m mad for photography so I really like Nick Moir,” Saville continues. Moir, a renowned Fairfax photographer is hosting a presentation “Shooting the Storm” on the Saturday afternoon. “Nick is a globally recognised storm chaser. I follow him on Instagram because he’s so incredible … He will literally risk life and limb [to get a photo].”
Despite the shifting sands of journalism, spend some time talking to Saville and you realise one of the underlying themes of Storyology is an optimism about the direction of the news business and storytelling.
“The barrier to writing good news has lowered,” she says. “You don’t need to go to work at the ABC or the Sydney Morning Herald to get out good stories anymore.
“People obviously need to make a living but there are a million good stories out there and I think it’s much easier now to go, ‘I’m a journalist. I want to write about this.’ … You just need to find way to pay the rent while you do it.”
Storyology runs at Palace Cinemas at the Barracks on July 27 and 28. The full program of events is here.