Posted by: denaragoble | November 27, 2017

The Visual Restorative Narrative Has Potential for Engaging Viewers

There is a new genre of journalism in town, and it’s been termed the “restorative narrative.”  After reading Images of Resilience: The case for Visual Restorative Narrative by Nicole Smith Dahmen, I think that visual storytelling has the potential of being very impactful when it comes to social change.  Dahmen comments that “journalism has a responsibility not just to report the news but also to contribute to civic engagement for an informed populace and functioning democracy (94).”  For those segments of the population with a lower socioeconomic status who may not be inclined to read the news on a regular basis, learning of current events through visual storytelling may be the key to engage those groups of people.  Or bring light to issues that may not have been heard otherwise.

One concern that Dahmen has of the “restorative narrative” is that it has “the potential to intrude on private moments and to exploit subjects (102).”  There a fine line between sharing a powerful, intimate story and exploiting someone for personal gain which should be discussed further.  I also have to ask, will these images actually cause people to act or will society move on to the next big news story?


  1. To somewhat answer Dahmen’s concern for subject exploitation, it helps that practitioners, professional or not, have a degree of knowledge and basic compassion for the subjects of their story. An article published on Kosmos Journal’s online platform, Mallary Jean Tenore’s solution to this dilemma seems to be all a matter of framing and focus. She says that restorative narratives don’t ignore the tragedy, but they show the reality of the situation, “but instead of focusing on what’s broken, they focus on what’s being rebuilt to reveal hope and possibilities.”

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