Michael Radutzky has presided over some of the biggest stories of our time.
The Senior Producer for “60 Minutes” has worked on stories about Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh, the Duke Rape Case and President Barack Obama just to name a few.
His work has earned him seven national Emmy awards and several other prestigious journalism awards. His full biography can be seen here.
Radutzky, who serves on Elon University’s School of Communications Advisory Board, spoke with my Public Opinion in New Media class today. The class is part of the university’s new Master of Arts program in Interactive Media.
What follows is an abridged version of our 60-minute discussion. Everything is paraphrased, except where quoted. Even though Radutzky does not hold a technical position, his insights are perhaps more important than anything a designer, programmer or developer can ever tell you. That’s my opinion.
I’ve boiled his insights down to five important takeaways that relate to multimedia. Note that none of his tips have to do with technology.
1. The story comes first. If the story falters, you have nothing.
Always craft stories with characters that people care about and make sure you answer a reader or viewer’s questions before they have them. That serves as the glue that holds a solid narrative together.
2. Provide unique content.
Radutzky used the example of “60 Minutes” staffers filing behind-the-scenes stories and commentary using Flip Video cameras. He said to remember that the interviewer is interesting too. People always love to peek behind closed doors, so to speak.
3. What’s the story really about?
Radutzky said “Every story has some kind of essential soul to it.” Every piece of content you produce should pass a kind of litmus test. If you can’t get to the heart of the story in 60 seconds or less, then maybe it’s not that interesting.
4. Follow your gut.
Always have your antenna out, on and attuned to what’s interesting. You always want to produce visually appealing, emotionally charged content that people can identify with. You can’t do that without trusting your instincts.
5. Segment the content.
Today, people crave short bursts of information. The opportunities to do long-from storytelling are becoming less prevalent. So segment your content into digestible bites, fit for different audiences.