Steps for story-based farm radio programming – Step 3: Focus and story idea

    | January 12, 2009

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    Broadcasters participating in the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) recently engaged in training to produce story-based radio programming. We’re sharing part of the training materials here, in the Radio Resource Bank. Below you’ll find Step 3 of an eight-step guide to story-based farm radio programming, on focus and story idea.
    – To re-visit Step 1: Topical thinking, click:
    -To re-visit Step 2: Practical research, click:

    Whether they call it a purpose, a goal, or a hypothesis, producers agree that before you record, you should ensure you have a clear reason for doing a program. A focus will tell you what you need to get in the field. You’ll know who you’re going to talk with, and why. You’ll want to make sure that every member of your production team has the same purpose, or focus, in mind.

    AFRRI has found that a focus statement is a great tool to prevent your story from becoming like an out-of-focus picture – fuzzy and unrecognizable. A focus statement describes somebody doing something for a reason. A good focus statement includes who, what, and why. Some producers might have their focus in their head, but writing it down keeps them on track.

    As part of your search for focus, find one possible story to pursue. The focus statement will help you go after a story with action, motivation, and a character. A good story is about people doing something for a reason. A good story touches us because it expresses universal values: love, hate, fear, pride, bravery – these are values and attributes we all share.

    Example: In Malawi, AFRRI producers decided to focus on hybrid maize storage. Their focus statement was simply: A local farmer works to properly store his maize because he wants greater food security for his family. This example has a who (the farmer), a what (proper storage) and a why (food security). As simple as it was, the Malawi team found this focus statement very useful. They said that having a focus statement “saved them time in the field because they knew what they are going for,” and “helped them get more depth from each interview.”