Tom French – be a storyteller : CMA 2010

There are stories everywhere. Behind any incident or person or place is some kind of narrative that can be spun into a newspaper format. So said CMA Louisville keynote speaker Tom French, and I agree.

French began his speech by calling out to fellow newspaper advisers (he is adviser to the Indiana University newspaper) about how tough they have it. Not really. He just talked about the challenges that an adviser faces – managing young adults, dealing with sob stories and listening to the chaos of the office. Good thing our adviser is on top of his game too – Colin won the CMA Honor Roll award for a 4-year college newspaper adviser. He is really a big part of why the Pendulum is even in the considerations for a Pacemaker.

From there, French broke in to anecdotes from his book, Zoo Story. He told of elephants being carried from Swaziland to Florida (“Always start out with flying elephants,” he said,) of Herman the chimp who was raised human and about a tigress (I’m not going to attempt the name… it was exotic, to say the least) who had a code one… or escaped her cage.

Those anecdotes had the audience on the edges of their seats. One could tell how French loved to bend and weave words to fit his story’s tapestry. (Do you like the figureative language? I could go on.) He used our tension and desire to know more not to sell his book, but to sell the idea that stories come from the most mundane things. For example, a zoo. Or a parking garage or a girl with crazy blue hair. (I’m really curious how you got it that color, if you’re her, please come talk to me!)

Sorry about all of the parentheticals. It’s the way I like to tell stories. I can’t wait to write another article – coming up soon I have two due for my fellow section editors – and try to tell the story in a new light.

-Lauren Ramsdell


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