Stories about Stories

So many stories, so little time. And then the stories about the stories.

Here are a few podcasts that have kept me company on the treadmill for many hours this winter. (And, given that ice follows snow in this region and walking remains treacherous in our neighbourhood, for more hours to come.)

They're all, in some way or another, meta-podcasts. Stories--and also stories about stories. And I think they're great, in different ways.

The one I've listened to the longest: Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters, by John August and Craig Mazin. I'm actually not a screenwriter but these guys are so incredibly generous with their time and their knowledge, and I learn something new about story, writing, professional behavior, research, accepting feedback, and tough love (not to mention two "one cool thing"s) every week. You can subscribe! You can buy all the episodes ever! And maybe you should!

The newest-to-me one: Gangrey: The Podcast. Interviews with people writing interesting things (mostly journalism-ish things), produced by the journalism and digital media program at Ashland University in Ohio. Interesting and different interviews, I might add. And, this close to International Women's Day, here's a good interview with women about women in journalism.

The one I resisted for the longest time: Serial. Yup. I didn't want to be hooked on something that wasn't complete, something I couldn't experience at my own pace. But then I listened to the first season (not all in one setting, but in a relatively brief time period), which was especially interesting because of the post-season discussions around ethical issues of re-opening old stories and talking about them in real time.

About Serial's second season, I thought, "Meh, not interested." Then one evening when my eyes were too tired to read and I wanted to be told a story, I listened to the first episode. And now I'm that person who really wishes she hadn't done that until all the episodes are up and she can control the pace. Because the voices and stories are just so interesting. I mean, really--who knows YOU, the whole you? How many facets to your personality are there? In what sense are we all characters in a giant story we're presenting to the world about ourselves?

Here's a bonus non-podcast (aka a regular website), also awesome, because it lets you see behind the stories. Nieman Storyboard, especially their Annotation Tuesday feature. But I highly recommend looking at the rest of the site, too.

I've wondered why podcasts are so popular--but I think it's pretty simple. Who doesn't love to be told a story?