Insights, tools and research to advance journalism

Boring versus engaging stories – what’s the difference?

One way to view a boring story is as an issue of excess. Too long, too rambling, too “into the weeds.”

The problem with this approach is what it implies, that merely cutting down and tightening up a tale will fix it. Often, however, the central weakness of boring stories is not length but the absence of elements common to good storytelling.

This may reflect the reporter’s reluctance to make conscious decisions about the most important elements in the story – the central point, central evidence, central characters, and the central place.

This guide, like many of the others in API’s Journalism Essentials section, is largely based on the research and teachings of the Committee of Concerned Journalists — a consortium of reporters, editors, producers, publishers, owners and academics that for 10 years facilitated a discussion among thousands of journalists about what they did, how they did it, and why it was important. The author, Walter Dean, was CCJ training director and API Executive Director Tom Rosenstiel formerly co-chaired the committee.

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