Journalism – and especially television – presents events as stories; it utilizes stereotypical templates to impose a sense of order and completeness on information and the result is often incomplete and even misleading.
....Our lives, and most events, do not unfold in an orderly sequence. To make sense of them, to manage the disorder of the world, we create stories.... Our stories may or may not be true in a factual sense. But unless we are involved in a forensic inquiry, what matters more in most cases are the meanings and perceptions they portray.
Jackson reminds us that our stories are created, then revised and fine-tuned over time, to serve various purposes:
- Stories make sense and order of the world and of our identities. After significant events, including traumatic experiences, these stories may need to be revised.
- Stories are told to fit the needs of the storyteller at a given time, needs that vary with the context: for example, we may want to court favor, present ourselves in a favorable light, bond with others, or help define who is “inside” and who is “outside.”
- Stories are told to meet the needs of the listener or audience, so the listener is often part of the creative act.