3 GREAT STORIES: Best of 2014 (so far), 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.

I am on vacation — and out of commission — through this week, so I figured I would use these weeks to post “Best Of” editions of my 3 Great Stories segment.

Last week I posted my three favorite written stories of the year so far. This week, without further ado, my three favorite audio/video pieces from January through May, along with what I wrote about them back then, with minor edits for clarity:

Young cancer patients find comfort in therapy dogs (5/14/14, WTVF-TV Nashville): Here is a tragic example of a headline submarining a great story.

I can only hope viewers of Nashville’s NewsChannel5 were able to watch the piece without the above spoiler. I was fortunate enough to do so, and I was surprised and rewarded when, two minutes into a powerful profile of a young boy with cancer, a dog pops up.

The story, reported by Chris Conte and photographed by Bud Nelson, discusses the effect of therapy dogs on children who get ultra-anxious at hospitals. The dog in this story is adorable enough, but so is the child being helped. Bryce Greenwell, all of five years old, is charming in numerous ways, including his penchant for the phrase, “Like a boss!”

From start to finish, Conte and Nelson keep you hooked.

One man is an island (3/11/14, 99% Invisible): This episode of 99% Invisible is one of my all-time favorites.

It starts with a Hall of Fame hook: a reporter named Sean Cole, while researching a story, stumbled on a Google Maps address for “Busta Rhymes Island”.

Rest assured, the island — much like the rapper — is very much real.

It sits near the Massachusetts suburb of Shrewsbury. Search it on Google Maps; you will absolutely find it.

I will not spoil this episode any further, other than to say it answers every question you could possibly ask, while blending in the beautiful storytelling that has become the show’s calling card.

(Not so) frozen Niagara Falls (3/5/14, WGRZ-TV Buffalo): This piece found a soft spot in my heart.

Not only does it come from my former stomping grounds (Buffalo, NY), my former employer (WGRZ-TV, the city’s NBC affiliate), and my former co-worker (reporter Dave McKinley), but it lovingly showcases the area’s greatest claim to fame:

Niagara Falls.

This is not, however, some sort of travelogue or profile of the Falls. It is a clever snapshot, written by McKinley in rhyming couplets, of an out-of-the-ordinary moment for the tourist destination. This winter’s polar vortex had frozen the Falls — or, at least, that is what many had heard. The buzz fueled several uncharacteristically busy days for the waterfall, thanks to mostly local visitors.

Watch this story for the writing, the photography, and the overall phenomenon. It found its way onto several major networks, and deservedly so.

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

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