Tales of an SIM media ‘intern’: Do’s, don’ts

I’m one week into a three-week internship with the SIMUSA media department in Charlotte, N.C. Think of it as a crash course in the art of telling SIM’s story, particularly through visual images. I’ve gotten the question a few times already: What are you learning?

In honor of the U.S. office’s affinity for video, I’ll attempt to illustrate one DO and one DON’T I’ve picked up so far.

DON’T: Make cheesy animated music videos containing misinformation 

This video has been near and dear to my heart ever since another SIM’er, Anna Ruth, introduced me to it during training this spring. (If you find it catchy, there are other very long, repetitious versions on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.)

While cute in a strange sort of way, it commits a cardinal sin – at least as far as my journalistic sensibilities are concerned. It contains misinformation. Yes, you can see lions, giraffes and zebras in Kenya – and yes, perhaps some would consider “Snoreway” a synonym for “Norway.”

But there are no tigers in Kenya, let alone singing and dancing ones.

DO: Look for ways to tell all sides of a story

As a writer, my goal is to see as many sides as possible of a story I am working on. The same should be true of any method of storytelling I use. After several sessions shadowing Rachel, I am in awe of how one can tell a story through images and sound.

During SIM training in the spring, we had a session discussing the danger of only representing a single story (or stereotype) and how our perspective on the world is impacted by our life experiences and not necessarily informed by reality. This following presentation by Chimamanda Adichie, a Nigerian author, served as the catalyst. (It’s about 18 minutes long, but it’s powerful; I highly recommend taking some time to view it.)

As I prepare to go to Kenya to tell the stories there, I hope I’ll always be mindful of the words of Adichie, with God’s help. I also hope I am able to add new dimensions to the story of eastern Africa.

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