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Finding the Story with Audio: Antoine Jenkins, 14-year-old campaign canvasser

November 8, 2012

As may know, lately I’ve been exploring digital storytelling through audio. I’ve been curious about how nonprofits and foundations can learn from the expertise of public radio producers in creating compelling stories.

With that in mind, I created this recent experimental piece about Antoine Jenkins who I met recently  on a canvassing trip to Las Vegas. As soon as I met Antoine, I knew I’d found a great “character” for a story.

While recording Antoine, I kept thinking about an excellent presentation by Planet Money’s reporter Robert Smith at the Third Coast Audio Festival. Smith carries a diagram of a story structurein his wallet: a story “embryo” by Dan Harmon, the creator of the TV Show “Community.” See the stages in the diagram on the left.

I realized that for a better story, I needed to record Antoine  going somewhere and doing something. So I made a point of following him as he canvassed for the Obama campaign. Antoine had already entered an unfamiliar situation and had to adapt to it. I included all the door knocking to show the drudgery of the task and how unfulfilling it could it. In the end, Antoine meets an actual voter. But how did Antoine change in the end? I think he felt more confident and like he contributed something important to Obama’s campaign. For me, this was an exercise in constructing an effective story. Let me know what you think.

If your organization wants to do the same, how would you put together a compelling story about a supporter or the community you serve?

Read more on these blogs that shared my audio story. 

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