3 GREAT STORIES: The “back from break, no more lists” 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.

Lists. They’re everywhere.

And never are they more everywhere than at the end of a year.

This past week, submerged in a sea of year-end lists from my favorite media outlets, web sites, and blogs, I mused the following on Twitter:

I quickly received a response from a viewer who assured me, yes, someone had indeed created such a list (at least for music).

I, of course, am just as responsible for the year-end list-mania as anyone. And I am not by any means against it; I appreciate the opportunity to look back on a year’s worth of great work, be it in music, movies, writing, or journalism.

But I also like when everyone gets back to work and starts creating again.

Here are three stories, from this past week, to start your year off right (even if they are all from the end of last year):

A relationship to last a lifetime (12/20/13, KUSA-TV Denver): The following story lasts nearly five minutes, and it features an emotional moment nearly every five seconds.

Reporter Aaron Matas and photojournalist Michael Driver of 9News in Denver profile the beautiful relationship between a high school football coach and a developmentally disabled former student. The interplay between the two is priceless, and Driver frames their interview beautifully, keeping whoever is speaking in focus while keeping the other almost imperceptibly out of focus.

In fact, this already touching and powerfully written story gets a big boost from Driver’s creativity as a shooter. He finds a seemingly innumerable amount of clever angles and how-did-he-get-that viewpoints, and those angles never seem out of step with the rest of the story.

This one is a winner, for sure.

“Help Portrait” shows the needy their best moments (12/29/13, WITI-TV Milwaukee): Much like the previous price, this one — a long-form story lasting more than three minutes — manages to continually squeeze in moment after moment.

Fox6 Milwaukee reporter Jeremy Ross and photojournalist Kale Zimny place the spotlight on a group of volunteers who provide holiday portraits for those in need. They don’t get a lot of room to maneuver — literally, as the entire story is shot within a tightly packed photo studio — but they get immense mileage out of colorful characters, swift editing, and beautiful turns of phrase in Ross’ writing.

“It is only a photo,” Ross says towards the story’s end. “It is not a place to stay. It is not a solution for poverty. But it is an effort to show people who may have faced the worst … what they look like at their best.”

Beautifully put.

I, Glasshole (12/30/13, Wired): This story is also very well written … if not somewhat NSFW.

Mat Honan received the chance to wear Google Glass for a year, and in this story he provides a revelatory look at what he learned. This piece triumphs in part from access; Honan was selected to try out a product that is expected to have major effects on how we live, and he presents his findings in a relatable manner.

Honan could have produced a perfectly informative piece had he written it as a traditional review, like something you might find on CNET. But he goes further; Honan approaches each part of his review from the human perspective: How did it feel to wear these glasses all the time? How did people treat him? And how come he had to convince his wife to let him wear them?

I have read a lot of stories about Google Glass, but on an emotional level, I responded strongest to this one.


Have a suggestion for “3 Great Stories of the Week”? E-mail me at matt@tellingthestoryblog.com.

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