ryan shmeizer

PODCAST EPISODE #31: “Best Of”, The Way We Act

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The number of podcasts is mounting up.

More than two years since I penned my first post for the Telling The Story blog, I have also had the pleasure of producing 30 podcasts. Each one has enabled me to interview a journalist or storyteller from across the media landscape.

I looked back at the list a few weeks ago, and I saw a few recurring themes.

One: I have gravitated towards guests who explain why we act the way we do — not as storytellers, but as recipients of storytelling. These guests are not necessarily journalists in a traditional sense, but they have used an expanding number platforms to explore the subject.

Such brings us to Episode #31 of the Telling The Story podcast: a “Best Of” edition on how we behave.

You’ll hear snippets from previous episodes with the following guests:

Ryan Shmeizer, a venture capitalist by day, on why we love list-based articles: “Lists are so tempting because they present the illusion of a satisfactory quick fix … but I do think, sometimes, hard-core, factual information that is hard to digest is often well served in list form.”

Dr. Paul J. Zak, professor at Claremont Graduate University, on the science of storytelling: “If you don’t get my attention in about 20 seconds, you’re gonna have a much harder time. … Print, you actually have a longer period of time, because people’s expectations are that it’s going to take a while to get through a page of text. But I think this says that the first paragraph, or even the title, signals that something’s gonna happen here.”

Clive Thompson, freelancer for Wired, the New York Times, and others, on the rapid evolution of language in the early years of social media: “Because we’ve had this shift where so much more conversation is happening in the written form, I think it’s almost like an evolutionary pressure to push language forward.”

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PODCAST EPISODE #17: Ryan Shmeizer, on why we love lists

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I know you can’t help it.

I can’t help it, either.

I am a journalist by trade, a person who values the craft and importance of storytelling, and a big believer in complex, rich reporting … and I can’t help it.

I always click on lists.

You know the articles: “6 Great Moments in Seinfeld History”, “The 27 Best Foods for a Picnic”, “32 Reasons To Love Summer”. These days, lists populate the web.

That is because we click on them.

My guest on this edition of the Telling The Story podcast explains why.

Ryan Shmeizer is not a professional journalist. He is a venture capitalist in New York who only recently decided to display his writing for the world.

And on his first try, he scored big.

Writing on the Medium platform, Shmeizer wrote a piece called, 10 Reasons You Will Read This Medium Post”. One by one, he delineated the reasons why we click on lists and then read them to completion.

The article was quickly named an Editor’s Pick on Medium and proceeded to go relatively viral. I recently mentioned it as one of my 3 Great Stories of the week.

On the podcast, Shmeizer offers the same insight and analysis as he does in his writing. (more…)

3 GREAT STORIES: Starring FSU, lists, & Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

The only obviously common thread between the three stories below is that they were all written.

I offer no TV pieces this week, nor anything from radio or video. I have selected three pieces that appeared on the Internet this week; one is the online edition of a print story, one is a web exclusive, and one is a republished magazine interview from 33 years ago.

The only other common thread? They are all insightful and memorable.

A star player accused, and a flawed rape investigation (4/16/14, New York Times): Wow.

This is how you research, write, and present a piece of investigative journalism.

Instantly one of the most widely spread articles of the week, Walt Bogdanich’s in-depth look at the Jameis Winston rape investigation produces incendiary highlights throughout. From interviews with relevant parties to a timeline of the events in question, Bogdanich offers a thorough look at what was done — and what was missed — throughout the aftermath.

No wonder the article has invoked such a reaction — both from Florida State, where Winston just led the football team to a national title, and from readers, many of whom followed the Winston coverage intently last fall. (more…)