31Oct
P1090311 copy

#GoodMorningAtlanta: the week’s photos from 10/27-10/31

In October 2014 I began posting a photo every weekday morning with the hashtag #GoodMorningAtlanta. The goal? To inspire, enlighten, or just plain help others start their day with a smile. See each week’s photos by clicking on the #GoodMorningAtlanta category, and view the daily photo by following me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

This week’s theme? The fall colors in northeast Georgia. The photos below are from October trips to Black Rock Mountain State Park and Tallulah Gorge State Park, both of which are currently seeing peak fall foliage. Read More »

29Oct
IYP

“Embrace your autonomy”: advice and a tip sheet for MMJs

I always appreciate the chance to speak with storytellers about this wild profession of ours.

In the past few years, I have received several opportunities to talk at conferences, and I particularly relish those moments. I believe in giving back as a general philosophy, but even more so when I can reach those in my profession who are eager to improve and learn.

And no topic delights me more than backpack journalism.

I have been a one-man band my entire career, starting when, at 22 years old, my first boss turned me into a one-man sports department. I have worked at several stations in numerous roles but have always been labeled a “multimedia journalist”, or MMJ. This is because, for the most part, I do it all — I shoot, write, and edit nearly every story I produce. This past year I was named the NPPA Solo Video Journalist of the Year, and last week I was asked by NPPA Quarterly Contest chair John Thain to reflect on the stories that got me there.

Watch it below (but try to ignore the choppy video):

As I spoke with John during that interview, I was reminded of how my “do-it-all” ability has truly catalyzed my career. At every stop, my versatility has made me valuable. And when I look around at other MMJs who have had major success in this business, I notice the same thing:

Most of them have embraced their autonomy.

When I get the chance to speak to journalists, particularly MMJs, I always send that message. Read More »

27Oct

3 GREAT STORIES: Starring paint, police cars, & pics

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

Young artist not stopped by disease sells $50K painting (10/23/14, KUSA-TV): An on-the-surface slam dunk of a story turns out, indeed, to be just that.

Reporter Kyle Dyer and photographer Andrew Christman of 9News in Denver spin a great yarn here. They tell the story of a young girl who suffers from brittle bone disease — as do her parents. She fights it with a beaming personality and a unexpected ability: painting. Fast forward to a charity event where the young girl, named Anicee, sells two of her canvases for $50,000 each.

It’s a feel-good story that feels better thanks to Dyer and Christman’s storytelling. They weave in some great surprises and genuine moments of joy, and they make it look pretty easy. Read More »

3Sep

Where should we go next? You tell me

Let me start with the bad news: for the month of September, the Telling The Story blog will be taking a break.

The good news: it’s only for positive reasons.

I have a very exciting month coming up, both personally and professionally, and am going to briefly hold off on the blog until the hectic schedule simmers down.

In the interim, I invite you to offer your suggestions on what you’d like to see in the future — specifically, who you’d like to see on the Telling The Story podcast.

Which storytellers inspire you? Whose work impresses you? Who would you like to see on the receiving end of a long-form interview?

Submit your ideas in the comment section below, or e-mail me at matt@tellingthestoryblog.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

In the meantime, thank you so much for your support. See you in October! Read More »

1Sep

3 GREAT STORIES: Starring India, SNL, & Soldierstone

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

Fulfilling a promise, Jewish center in India reopens after terror attack (8/26/14, New York Times): Here is an example of what the New York Times often does so well.

Writer Gardiner Harris tells the story of a Jewish center in India that had been “attacked and gutted during a 2008 killing rampage by Pakistani gunmen”. A week ago, the center re-opened, with a group of Hasidic men from Brooklyn having flown to Mumbai to help dedicate it.

The facts of the story are interesting on their own. But Harris elevates them by surrounding them with context, a summary of Jewish history in India, and personal perspectives. Sometimes, as journalists, we complete a story and wonder if we have covered everything worth mentioning in our tiny allotted window.

This is a complete story, and Harris — with his editors, for giving him the space — deserves credit for a job thoroughly done. Read More »

27Aug
journalism file

The Telling The Story collection: advice for college journalists

We have reached 18 months since I first launched the Telling The Story web site.

Among the many highlights for me has been the opportunity to reach and inspire younger journalists, particularly those in college.

With that in mind, and with most college students heading back to school over the next few weeks, I wanted to use this space this week to offer a collection of posts that have focused most directly on aspiring journalists in college:

Ten years later: what I learned (and didn’t learn) in J-school: “Maybe I needed ten years to understand the importance of those four years at Medill. For so long I wondered why Northwestern had not better prepared me for the “real world” of journalism. But here’s the thing: the only place to truly learn those “real world” skills is the real world. And like it or not, you learn those skills very quickly when you start your career.

Instead, my professors and leaders at Northwestern focused on teaching what I would not automatically learn as a professional. Through everything mentioned above, they ingrained in me a sense of the tradition and power of journalism. What we do is important. What we do is valued. What we do is a time-honored touchstone of society. These may sound like bromides or motivational ploys, but I believe them to be critical. Journalism is always changing, but journalists must always remember the importance of what we do.” Read More »

25Aug

3 GREAT STORIES: Starring carillon bells, typos, & James Foley

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

The voice of Baylor (8/20/14, KCEN-TV): Maybe this story started with an unfair advantage.

It is about the carillon bells that ring atop a magnificent building at Baylor University. It is also about the woman who plays them, but the bells are clearly the stars of the show.

Because once they start chiming, they have a hypnotic effect.

Reporter Chris Davis and photojournalist Bryan Wendland produce a story of nearly four minutes length. Given the feature-like subject matter and relative lack of substance, they could have easily told the story in half the time.

But half the time would miss the point.

This story flies by, mainly because everything flows so beautifully: Davis’ short sentences, quick sound bites, nicely timed edits and beautifully framed shots, and, of course, the bells, which provide the constant soothing energy that moves the piece.

In many ways, the bells have the effect on the viewer that they have on everyone in the story. That’s pretty impressive. Read More »

20Aug
Squirrel Fry

Squirrels, Steve Hartman, & storytelling through details

Every Saturday morning, when the weather is nice, I take a walk around the block.

Of course, living in the heart of Atlanta, my block is a city street that features high-rises, an office complex, and a hotel. But it leads to a massive park, and it is a great gateway to a number of enjoyable routes.

I have walked down that street numerous times … and then, on a recent Saturday morning, I saw it differently.

Before that day, I barely acknowledged the yards and grass in front of the buildings; I noticed the green swaths in front of me, naturally, but I never gave them a second thought. I simply kept listening to whatever was playing in my earbuds, enjoying the wide view of the street, and moving along.

But on this day, I decided I would pay attention. I would look around for details, wherever I could find them, that I would not otherwise notice.

And when I looked at the yards, I saw squirrels.

Lots of them.

Chowing down on grass blades and acorns.

The following Saturday, I looked again — and, once more, I saw the squirrels.

Now I see them whenever I walk by. And I always think to myself, “How did I never notice them before?” These are living creatures, existing en masse right in front of me, yet they never registered in my mind or my eyes.

These are the kinds of details that pass by journalists and storytellers every day. Read More »

18Aug

3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Ferguson, Alabama, & Edward Snowden

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

The front lines of Ferguson (8/15/14, Grantland): The startling and tragic events in Ferguson, Mo. have brought about some truly powerful reporting. I have read numerous pieces this week that have brought to light the pain, shock, and tension of the situation.

This one, from Grantland’s Rembert Browne, stuck with me the most.

I normally enjoy Browne’s more frivolous work, like when he hilariously recapped episodes of 24 this summer. But he can pack an emotional punch, and he does so here by intertwining his personal reflections with the front-line events in Ferguson. Browne describes himself early on as a “black boy turned black man who finds it increasingly miraculous that I made it to 27″. That point of view shines through throughout his descriptions of the protests and police response.

The Internet provides a variety of voices and perspectives for anyone willing to hear them. This week was a major example. Read More »

13Aug
Hiroshima 3

How I spent my summer vacation (and used it in a story)

My older friends in broadcasting like to tell me of a time when traveling was a natural part — nay, a benefit! — of the job.

Apparently, a time once existed when one could wrangle a trip to a foreign country to do “slice-of-life” stories. I do not totally believe this, but I don’t totally *not* believe it.

These days, traveling for a story — if you work for a local news department — is a much rarer sight. I got an enormous opportunity this past February when I went to Sochi to cover the 2014 Winter Olympics, but I can count on one hand, in my five years in Atlanta, how many times anyone at my station flew internationally for the job.

I love to travel, especially to foreign countries. And when I do, I try as hard as possible to separate myself from work. I set my Outlook away message; I rarely use my phone because of the lack of wi-fi abroad; and I take comfort in the fact that I can do very little for our nightly newscast while I am out of the country.

But those trips, ultimately, always affect my work. They open my eyes to other cultures, enhance my perspective as a whole, and even give me added photography practice.

Last month, for the first time, one of my trips directly paid dividends on the air. Read More »

© Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved