Media Magazine

The Importance of the Story

Posted on the 09 August 2011 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

TAKEAWAY: I have come across two pieces in the past 24 hours that, again, reinforce for us the importance of “the story”.

Stories and storytelling

President Obama is no doubt getting a lot of advice these turbulent days; now, he also gets some advice of a different kind: it is all about the story, and let’s not forget that.

This is what Drew Westen, a professor of psychology at Emory University and the author of The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation., reminds the President in a piece that appeared in The New York Times this past Sunday. In his piece, Westen reminds the President that it is all about stories, and, specifically, within the context of President Obama’s tenure, the story that the American people want to hear, and that he is apparently not telling.

The stories our leaders tell us matter, probably almost as much as the stories our parents tell us as children, because they orient us to what is, what could be, and what should be; to the worldviews they hold and to the values they hold sacred. Our brains evolved to “expect” stories with a particular structure, with protagonists and villains, a hill to be climbed or a battle to be fought. Our species existed for more than 100,000 years before the earliest signs of literacy, and another 5,000 years would pass before the majority of humans would know how to read and write.


I recommend you read the piece, which takes storytelling to its beginnings:

Stories were the primary way our ancestors transmitted knowledge and values. Today we seek movies, novels and “news stories” that put the events of the day in a form that our brains evolved to find compelling and memorable. Children crave bedtime stories; the holy books of the three great monotheistic religions are written in parables; and as research in cognitive science has shown, lawyers whose closing arguments tell a story win jury trials against their legal adversaries who just lay out “the facts of the case.

The case for storytelling: part 2

Another story I recommend, comes from the UK’s The Guardian, and it is titled:
Storytelling: digital technology allows us to tell tales in innovative new ways.

The piece’s summary says it all: As the tools available to publishers grow more sophisticated, it’s up to us to experiment and see what sticks

The author of the piece, Aleks Krotoski, reminds us that we need to see storytelling beyond the linear, as we so often do.

…..linear stories still dominate the page, our TVs, our radios, our games consoles and the theatre. Yet the process of telling a story doesn’t have to be unidirectional.“

It does not have to be, and we in this blog are constantly urging people in our industry to not just make storytelling the protagonist, but also the one area of our work in which we can be more experimental.

In this piece we read about “multi-way” conversations, which the digital media can do so well, and that, in its most primitive representation, is what we see when we turn to Twitter or Facebook.

I like that term multi-way conversation because, there is no doubt in my mind, this is how we will be dealing with storytelling now and in the future.

Reporting this week from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This week finds me and our Garcia Media art director, Constantin Eberle, working with the team of the New Straits Times in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.  I will post TheMarioBlog daily during my usual morning schedule,  but because of time differences, it will be evening for those in other parts of the world.

For a view of the Garcia Media printed projects’ retrospective


TheMarioBlog post #827

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