“Every Story Needs A Villain.” Discuss.

A guest post from our partner, Devon Terrill, Media Program Officer at the Stanley Foundation in the Policy Programming Department.

Does it matter, in terms of good reporting, who is telling the story? How much of who we are influences what we see and say?

As a former documentary filmmaker, and in my current role working closely with journalists and media organizations to strengthen coverage of global peace and security issues, my experience is that every detail of a situation that is captured —or missed— influences the picture that is presented to audiences. Even the most skilled storytellers need time with a subject or situation to find those layers that can pull the heart of the problem (and solutions) into focus and help others understand the reality on the ground. This is challenging when there is so much pressure in today’s media environment to prioritize speed, brevity and economy over depth and nuance.

Good reporting means gut-checking your own point of view with the perspectives of others who may notice things just outside your own field of vision. At the same time, there’s no getting around the fact that you are human, and you DO have a point of view. Every well-researched story is a version of truth, which, when combined with other reporting from diverse storytellers, tells a deeper truth.

Iraq sandstorm