Participatory Journalism

When journalists want to bring a fresh approach to a story that everybody is covering, they sometimes find a way to give their audience a first person view. One way is to get involved in the story. For example, many reporters were covering and commentating on water boarding, a form of aggressive interrogation or torture. After a few weeks of constant coverage I began tuning out these incessant reports. Then I saw that Christopher Hitchens decided to undergo water boarding and write about it for Vanity Fair. Whether you agree with his conclusions or not, you must agree that he separated himself from the thousands of other reporters and writers on this subject.

I have seen local reporters subject themselves to being pepper sprayed and tazed in order to give the audience a sense of what it feels like and how incapacitating it is. This first person point of view is sometimes reserved for sweeps week.

Other local news people have participated in less painful assignments, such as, demonstrating how alcohol impairs one’s ability to drive. The reporter drives an obstacle course, takes a drink, drives the course again. This is repeated until the point is undeniable.

I can’t think of a painful or humiliating experience I am passionate enough about to put myself through torture in order to give you a first person point of view. However, some fun things come to mind. I would gladly drive 180 miles per hour around Texas Motor Speedway for a story. I could be a judge at a county fair deciding who baked the best pie. Professional wine taster, scotch taster…

What would you be willing to experience in order to write a story that would be published in your favorite glossy magazine?

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