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One way to think about events: Live performances of journalism

A look at a variety of ways that narrative journalism styles are being transformed into live events from news organizations.

This report looks at various ways that performance-oriented events bring a magazine narrative journalism style into the realm of live events. It provides potential inspiration for how news organizations might create engaging in-person events in and around their stories that can, themselves, be sources of revenue.

Ultimately, doing a good live show is hard. Journalists often excel in their chosen medium, whether that’s print or online or radio or television, but live theater is a whole new set of skills. Reporters aren’t necessarily used to blocking things out onstage, thinking about lighting and live pacing and the set, figuring out the motions of their storytellers, the facial expressions, or working with audio and visuals and music. The arc of a print story might hinge on a quote or a phrase or a description, where the narrative of a stage show might pivot on a turned back or some other movement. Turning a story from a print or radio piece into a stage performance means learning all those skills. If done well, though, live events can bring a whole new level of interest and impact to narrative nonfiction.

“Journalism can be really effective when it actually entertains people,” says Pop-Up’s Walters, “and they don’t feel like it’s something they should be paying attention to but it’s something they want to pay attention to.”