Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Print Journalism taught me HOW to look for STORIES - Kevin Stabinsky

Although a graduate of Penn State University (2002) with a bachelor of arts in English, emphasis in nonfiction writing, I credit most of my growth as a writer to my nearly 6 years in the Army. During my enlistment, I held the military occupation specialty (MOS) 46Q, print journalist.

While college taught me writing basics, my time as a print journalist taught me something even more valuable: how to look for stories.

While the perception of military life tends to be one of excitement, it isn’t always the case. Even initially exciting events such as a new type of training can get boring when they are integrated into the normal routine. Additionally, because most of a military journalist’s stories appear in military publications (base newspapers, Army produced magazines, etc.), the audience isn’t necessarily interested in reading about training or other things they probably experience firsthand themselves.

Despite all these difficulties, my job was to produce weekly content to tell the Army story. So I was forced to look for new story angles and human interest stories. I had to look deeper than the surface. I was forced to look for small details that are often overlooked and expand upon them, to look for human interest angles that would make others want to read what I wrote.
I credit this attention to detail and deeper digging to the completion of my first novel. I think all of us have stories to tell; however, we may not necessarily have the skills to pick out the ones worth telling, losing them in the sea of everyday life. Army life taught me this skill.

Because my first novel deals with Army life to an extent, I hope I do a good service to “the service” for all it has taught me about being an effective storyteller. Likewise, I hope to continue to use and develop this skill as I continue to grow as a writer.

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