If you can ever start with flying elephants…

Tom French’s key note speech contained a beginning, three cliffhangers and an end that eventually braided the four strings together. His speech embodied the mission of journalists and proved the strength in the profession.

“Nobody knows what is going to happen to journalism,” French said, “but I’d like to point that even if print journalism eventually dies the human hunger for stories will remain.”

He said that there is a basic human need to know what happens next. No one in the audience had a vested interest in the fate of eleven elephants traveling across the Atlantic Ocean on a plane. The entire audience did not have a personal relationship with a chimp named Hermann. There was not an individual who was there the day the tiger broke free in a Tampa zoo. Nevertheless, everyone was captivated by the stories and groaned in disappointment the moment French stopped telling the tales.

Once you get caught up in the story, you need to see where it takes you, French said.

It is the duty of journalists to continue to choose stories to tell. Storytelling is an art that will change form, but never die. The compilation of these stories document life.

-Melissa Kansky

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