Communication Styles: Analysis of Robert Coles' Doing Documentary Work

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Communication Styles

Documentaries are an important way in determining the way we construct history and memory. The word document is originated from the Latin word docere, which means to teach. It is also used to describe a piece of paper that demonstrates evidence. Today, films, photographs, and even recordings are correspondingly considered as documents.
In Robert Coles book Doing documentary work, Chapter one “The Work: Locations in Theory” he claims that when doing a documentary, the researcher must express his or her perspective in the story they choose to tell. “A close reading of what they ultimately wrote about their experiences, helps clarify our thinking about the various ways observers can respond to what they have seen and heard and come to believe”(24-25). Robert Cole’s first insight on how the views differ from reality and documentary work was when he wrote about the migrant farm children as a journal read by the physicians and psychiatrists. Writing this journal he came across a problem. Cole said that he tried to describe the various states of mind he observed in the children he met. “At one point, however I inadvertently got myself and my editors into some trouble by using the word poignant denial of their very condition as young farm workers” (28). Even though the editor understood what Cole was implying he doubted to eliminate the word because it would “stand out.” But whether or not one uses descriptive, subjective words such as poignant, "who we are, determines what we notice and what we regard as worthy of noticing, what we find significant," Coles says.
Throughout Cole’s first chapter he brings upon different forms of documentaries like audio journals and photo essays. Audio journal is a form of documentary communication that uses technology to provide journalistic information to those who are unable to access a printed page or for those who are print disabled. They provide local and national news information and important events.

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