Conversations: Dan Oshinsky

by on July 3, 2012

Nonfiction Talks

Here at The Bad Version, we’re interested in people who not only start new conversations, but also redirect existing ones. Take, for example, Dan Oshinsky, a self-described “creator of awesome stuff ”wh ois producing journalism of a different stripe through his project Stry (pronounced “story”), which began as a one-man bureau in Biloxi, Mississippi in July 2010. Stry, which now has six reporters on board, practices the sort of shoe-leather reporting that most news outlets are too financially straitjacketed to support. The demand for round-the-clock updates and bulk quantities of quick, snappy news items represents a formidable hurdle when trying to make a profit-driven argument for intensive, long-term reporting on the ground. Stry attempts to move against the current. The team is based in Springfield, Missouri this summer, collecting stories from townspeople and crafting long-form pieces that focus on narrative, color, and personal history. I had the opportunity to chat with Oshinsky, so hear about Stry’s mission of storytelling from the founder himself:

EY: Let’s start at the beginning, in 2010, when you decided to launch Stry. What was going through your head at the time?

DAN: I was working at a TV station in San Antonio, Texas, and I was looking at two things: I was looking out at the Gulf of Mexico—there was oil coming out of the gulf still—and the economy was not doing so well. And then there was this third thing: the Katrina anniversary was coming up, and I had been down to New Orleans about a couple months after Katrina. It stayed on my mind. But I wasn’t seeing stories come out about what people were dealing with down on the gulf. I was seeing stories about New Orleans, but not about Mississippi, Alabama, the gulf. It really bothered me. And what I should’ve done was left it alone and gone back to playing Tetris on my computer, but for whatever reason, I decided that it bothered me enough that I wanted to do something about it. So I left my job and moved to Mississippi to do this [Stry].

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