Journalism’s Glasshouse

Ira Glass is a well-known New York City-based radio personality. Active since the mid-’90s, “This American Life” is a weekly radio and podcast program that reports on real news. Being the founder, producer, and host, Glass revolutionized audio storytelling with the premiere of “This American Life”. Further, as Glass’s career has progressed, he has done many sit-down interviews discussing the artistic nature of storytelling through media. Overall, Glass views audio storytelling as a tool for connecting hosts to their audience through taking meticulous approaches to their audio journalism.

Ira Glass on StorytellingReflection
What are the building blocks of storytelling?According to Glass, when telling stories, the delivery style is what keeps listeners invested. The bait and anecdote are the theoretical building blocks used in storytelling. The bait used by narrators to captivate their audience is not a blatant question posed to the audience. Bait is the content that keeps listeners constantly raising questions. Throughout the story, the answers will prevail. This technique is used simultaneously with the anecdote. The sequence of a story is the anecdote. Even if the story is not interesting, the listener will continue to be engaged if the anecdote insights an emotional response. Further, the bait and anecdote commonly build up tension towards a climax in the story. The style of delivery and structure imposed by the narrator are significant factors when deciding what bait and anecdote will be incorporated. I appreciated learning about these building blocks because an adamant consumer of podcasts, the delivery of the story by the narrator captivates my attention and persuades me to support the narrator’s future projects. Writers and producers considering their audience’s engagement benefits their engagement data and establishes a common ground between creators and the audience.
I failed, now what?Aside from Ira Glass’s extensive contributions to modernizing journalism and audio storytelling, he is also transparent about his production process. Glass describes perceived failure as a large part of success. Per his experiences, broadcasting takes consistency and a willingness to try new things. Being consistent alone won’t always produce something the author is pleased with publishing. Practicing trying new techniques and approaches, along with consistency allows the author to get to know their audience better and mold their craft in a way that the audience appreciates the most. At times, finding a story takes longer than it takes to produce the story. However, Glass prioritizes the quality of his production and prioritizes putting forth intentional effort as opposed to scrapping every project that does not neatly span out. Glass’s positive attitude towards failure and its value to his production process inspired me to analyze what I perceive as “failure” when completing future art projects.

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