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What Is a Story?

By on December 19th, 2011 — 9:48am

VISIT FLORIDA, an industry thought leader on so many fronts (see: Google Currents), has established a new standard with the conception, reporting and production of original content. This initiative started with the Insiders, the cast of bloggers who write consumer-friendly posts on such hot topics as beaches and family travel. And it continues with the VISIT FLORIDA Travel Wire,  a network of veteran journalists who write, photograph and film stories of Florida which are then made available to such trusted publications as the Palm Beach Post and St. Petersburg Times. We understand this strategy: Stories, independently reported and including people like us, inspire travel.But here’s a more complicated question I’ve heard recently:  What is a story?

Well, here’s what I think a story is (and isn’t) for VISIT FLORIDA.

  • We write about destinations, but more often we write about the compelling people and histories within those destinations.
  • Events are finite. We are looking for story angles that resonate with readers long after the event has passed.
  • Some stories are just a few sentences or a collection of images.

“I’d like to write a story about the Black Archives and what’s there,” the freelancer said.

(In my head I’m thinking that I can go online and find out what’s in the Black Archives. No story yet.)

“Let’s keep talking,” I said.

The reporter ultimately learned that African-American families often schedule reunions during the summer in Tallahassee, and a tour of the Black Archives is a centerpiece of that event. (We’re getting warmer.)

The reporter connected with a family and watched a dad navigate the slavery room, one difficult exhibit at a time. A famous photo of a slave and his terribly scarred back moved the dad to sharing a teachable moment about gratitude with his teenage son.

Within this narrative, the reporter name-dropped some museum highlights.

Conclusion for the reader: The Black Archives is a powerful experience worth my time.

Some others:

– Yes, Cuban sandwiches are yummy, but which city does it better? Miami or Tampa?

– The Strawberry Festival, which turns 82 in February, sells thousands of shortcakes and features major musical performers, but how is a strawberry born?

– The opening of LEGOLAND is an announcement. How this little toy brick has remained such a durable brand after 85 years is a story.

I hope that helps. Let’s talk about your stories.

Kevin McGeever
Senior Editor
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