The science behind storytelling: A Harvard Business Review

Photo courtesy of Phil Whitehouse/Flickr

Has anyone every told you journalism is a dying industry?

What am I kidding, every journalist has heard that.

I hear it like an echo from family, friends, sources and I’ve even heard it from a university professor – usually to the tune of innocent skepticism or leading inquests:

“Isn’t that a difficult career to get into?”

“Does it worry you that all these local papers are disappearing?”

When what they really mean is:

“Isn’t the media industry hemorrhaging money?”

“Do you WANT to hover around the poverty line for the rest of your life, or are you just a bad life planner?”

I’ve never had my doubts about the future of media and my chosen profession, mostly because I’ve seen how people react to a well-written, thought-provoking story. When the right story is pitched, the right sources are found and the right writer puts ink to paper (or finger to keyboard), audiences spring to life. It’s finding that perfect harmony between news and storytelling that journalists want to find.

It’s a hard balance to strike, but it helps to know what audiences really crave. In this Harvard Business Review blog post, written by American Economist Paul J. Zak, we can see the science behind storytelling and why audiences crave character-driven narratives.


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