The case for Restorative Narratives

This story was originally published in Kosmos Journal.

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The phrase ‘future of journalism’ is often uttered in media circles these days—and understandably so. Everyone wants to learn how to save parts of the industry that are struggling financially, and they’re attempting to figure out how to best prepare themselves and their news organizations for the years ahead.

To prepare for the future, many news organizations have experimented with innovative ways of telling stories—through compelling interactive graphics, impressive video packages, and more. Much of the innovation in media these days revolves around technology. This is important and a step in the right direction, but we also need to be thinking about innovation in terms of the types of stories we tell.

At Images & Voices of Hope (ivoh), a media-related nonprofit, we’ve been developing a genre called Restorative Narrative—stories that show how people and communities are making meaningful progression from despair to resilience. Restorative Narratives explore despair and address difficult truths, but they also move the storyline forward by showing how the affected people and communities are rebuilding and, in some cases, recovering. In doing so, these narratives highlight signs of renewal and resilience.

In many ways, Restorative Narratives offer a more holistic and balanced approach to media coverage. We’re not saying, “don’t tell stories about tragedies, problems, and crimes.” We’re saying, “tell these stories, but don’t stop there.” The story doesn’t end when the last shot is fired or when the tornado leaves town; in many ways, it’s just beginning.

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