Monthly Archives: December 2014

#GoodMorningAtlanta: My favorite stories of 2014

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.

As the year winds down, I am looking back at my work for NBC’s Atlanta affiliate, 11Alive.

Here are my five favorites:

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My favorite posts of 2014: A look back

I am spending the next few weeks looking back at 2014, recapping the best stories I watched or read while also reflecting on my favorite blog posts of the year.

For whatever reason, I have had a lot to write about.

I remember feeling somewhat nervous as I began my second year of writing for the Telling The Story blog. Would I start to run thin on topics? Would I lose the momentum I had developed last year?

Far from it.

Between my Olympics journey and several other professional successes, I found plenty of blogging inspiration during 2014.

Here are my five favorite entries from the past year, with excerpts; thank you all for reading:

An outstanding NPPA honor, and a prideful achievement (3/26/14): At the moment when I received one of the greatest honors of my career, I could not have felt less prestigious.

I was not dressed in my black-tie finest, attending some lavish awards banquet, hoping to walk up on a stage and give an acceptance speech. I was not surrounded by my colleagues, loved ones, and journalists from all over.

I was sitting alone on my couch, in my gym clothes, staring at a laptop.

And that was completely, absolutely, undoubtedly fine.

The TV branch of the National Press Photographers Association, or NPPA, held its annual awards show Monday night. The association named its photographers and stations of the year for each of its three regions. It also named its national Solo Video Journalist of the Year, in a category full of talented one-person bands who shoot and edit their own reports.

I am thrilled to announce that I was named 2013’s Solo Video Journalist of the Year. (more…)

3 GREAT STORIES: Best of 2014, audio/video edition

Every week, I will 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.

Having done the “3 Great Stories” segment all year long, I now face the challenge of picking my favorites.

But I have picked them, and here they are.

I posted my three favorite written stories of the year last week. This week, without further ado, I present my three favorite audio/video pieces of 2014, along with what I wrote about them back then, with minor edits for clarity:

#3) Knox County man builds backyard roller-coaster — again (10/29/14, WTHR-TV): I will say it simply: this story is one of the finest TV features I have seen in a long time.

The “plot” is simple, summed up in the above headline. A rural Indiana man has gained worldwide fame for a roller-coaster he built in his own backyard. Most stations might assign a reporting crew to tell the story in 90 seconds; it might make a nice feature but then fade from memory quickly afterwards.

Not this station, and not this story.

Reporter Kevin Rader and photographer Steve Rhodes put an extraordinary amount of care into this piece, and it shows in every loving touch. They reveal a new layer of the story every minute, and they present their subject, named John Ivers, in the context of both his creation (the roller-coaster) and his community.

I challenge you to watch this and not crack a smile. (more…)

#GoodMorningAtlanta: Photos from 12/15-12/19

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.

I’m cheating again.

But I am too fond of the photos I just took to mind.

I spent much of last week in New York City, and I got the chance to visit some of the Big Apple’s biggest spots. Here are five that stood out; enjoy!

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My favorite posts of 2014: The Olympics experience

I am spending the next few weeks looking back at 2014, recapping the best stories I watched or read while also reflecting on my favorite blog posts of the year.

A cool thing happened last week:

I posted my 200th entry to the Telling The Story blog.

I continue to truly enjoy the experience of writing a blog, hosting a podcast, and communicating with storytellers and journalists worldwide. This platform has allowed me to share my own experiences in the field and provide a window into my day-to-day life.

No experience this year stood out quite like my month at the Olympics.

I flew to Russia on February 1st and didn’t get back to America until the 26th. During that time, in addition to my primary duties reporting for my TV station and others, I wrote 15 blog entries that saw significant traffic.

Here are my five favorites, with excerpts from each:

Arriving in Sochi, awaiting sleep (2/3/14): 3:34 AM.

The clock on my computer is staring back at me, screaming, “GO TO BED!” in its non-threatening, tiny white font.

And yet, I am nowhere near tired.

Welcome to the road-trip life, nine time zones away.

I have officially arrived in Sochi, Russia, home of the 2014 Winter Olympics. This is a truly exciting opportunity, one that I cannot wait to tackle.

But first, somehow, I have to get my body right. (more…)

3 GREAT STORIES: Best of 2014, written edition

Every week, I will 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.

Having done the “3 Great Stories” segment all year long, I now face the challenge of picking my favorites.

But I have picked them, and here they are.

I will post my three favorite audio/video stories of the year next week. This week, without further ado, I present my three favorite written pieces of 2014, along with what I wrote about them back then, with minor edits for clarity:

#3) A star player accused, and a flawed rape investigation (4/16/14, New York Times): Wow.

This is how you research, write, and present a piece of investigative journalism.

Instantly one of the most widely spread articles of the year, Walt Bogdanich’s in-depth look at the Jameis Winston rape investigation produces incendiary highlights throughout. From interviews with relevant parties to a timeline of the events in question, Bogdanich offers a thorough look at what was done — and what was missed — throughout the aftermath.

No wonder the article has invoked such a reaction — both from Florida State, where Winston just led the football team to a national title, and from readers, many of whom followed the Winston coverage intently last fall. (more…)

#GoodMorningAtlanta: Photos from 12/8-12/12

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.

I’m cheating a little this week.

The #GoodMorningAtlanta photos you see below are nowhere near Atlanta.

They are from California.

But having just returned from the magnificent Joshua Tree National Park, I felt compelled to make that beautiful desert sand-scape the subject of my weekly paean to photography. Enjoy!

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PODCAST EPISODE #23: Claudine Ewing, reporter, WGRZ-TV

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Challenging. Adrenaline-pumping. Riveting. Exhausting.

These words barely begin to describe working at a local TV station during a story so large it compels round-the-clock coverage.

We experienced it in Atlanta last winter during “Snowmageddon”, where a few inches of snow-turned-ice led to massive back-ups on the highways and left people stuck in their cars for hours.

Local TV journalists in Buffalo went through it last month, when the region was pelted with a different kind of snowstorm.

A seven-foot kind of snowstorm.

The historic snowfall — even by Buffalo standards — created massive issues across the region, and the NBC affiliate, WGRZ-TV, replaced its regular programming with non-stop news coverage. Anchors, reporters, producers, photographers, and staffers across the board worked extra-long shifts — outdoors, too, for the crews in the field.

Situations like these stretch a newsroom to its thinnest.

In this case, half of the WGRZ newsroom could not even get there.

So says longtime reporter Claudine Ewing: “Anybody who lived in the Southtowns could not get in; they just could not get out of their homes. One of our photographers live in Hamburg, and the snow was so high, he couldn’t open the door.”

Ewing is my guest on this episode of the Telling The Story podcast.

For nearly four years, I worked with Ewing at Channel 2 in Buffalo, and I always admired the area’s resilience in the face of brutal weather. The stereotypes about Buffalo’s climate are not entirely true; the region has beautiful summers and lovely fall foliage in early October. But, I must admit, Buffalo winters are no joke, and I remember my disbelief last month upon learning of a snowstorm somehow too powerful for Western New York.

That said, when I tuned into WGRZ’s live-stream online, I admired the composure and straightforwardness of the anchors and reporters, including my former co-worker Ewing.

If you listen to her words, regarding both the historic snowstorm and her general advice for journalists, you will hear a recurring theme: being connected to the community. In order to truly reach your audience, you have to get to know them. Ewing is a native Western New Yorker who now works in the region, but she continues to develop her contacts and get a feel for the people who value her as a media voice.

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3 GREAT STORIES: The all-New York City edition

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.

Eric Garner chokehold death protests: Day 4 in NYC (12/6/14, Yahoo): If the nation’s eyes last week were glued to Ferguson, this week they turned to New York City.

When a grand jury failed to indict the officer whose chokehold of Eric Garner led to Garner’s death, community members of all races gathered at various protests throughout the city. They have continued for four straight days, and they have drawn larger crowds than many expected.

Sometimes words come short, and images prevail. For me, this photo gallery from Yahoo! News — culled together from other sources and curated, Big Picture-style — is such an instance. While each photo comes with a caption, the gallery as a whole stands on its own for capturing the passion of everyone involved — even some unexpected sources.

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