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.
Veteran gets overdue hearing aids after VA delay (5/18/15, KARE-TV): Like any great investigative piece, this epic from KARE-TV’s A.J. Lagoe and Gary Knox details the process of research, phone calls, and interviews that ultimately lead to results.
But unlike many investigative pieces, this one shines brightest from its human center.
Reporter Lagoe and photographer Knox tell the story of Denny Madson, who has been waiting more than a year for VA-approved hearing aids. Madson wants the devices for one overarching reason: so he can hear his wife, Darlene, who is suffering in the hospital and can barely speak above a whisper.
Lagoe’s script and Knox’s camerawork set up some touching moments between the couple, including the happy ending. This is a textbook example of how to personalize an otherwise visually challenging story.
A father’s initiative (5/16/15, Washington Post): I can tell when I have read a truly powerful story because of my physical response when it ends.
I get so absorbed in the world of the story that I must actually take a few seconds afterwards to re-acclimate to mine.
I had that reaction after completing “A father’s initiative”, Eli Saslow’s wrenching feature about a single dad taking President Obama’s 16-class fatherhood course. In many ways, this article is a Rorschach test for how one views poverty, race, and other matters. Mostly, though, it is a poignant tale of human struggle — and whether or not that struggle can be soothed through bureaucratic means. Each paragraph ripples with conflicting emotions, such as this one early in the piece:
Now it was his 15th class, nearing the end, and despite the hopeful language in a course guide — “End the cycle of intergenerational poverty!” “Help turn your child turn into a success story in 16 lessons.” — so much about his life remained unstable. He had moved nine times in seven months. He had been offered two jobs but failed the drug tests. It had been several days since he had seen the baby’s mother, a former longtime girlfriend who was no longer living with them. “Sapphire misses you. Are you coming over to see her??” he had texted once, and the silence that followed made him think Sapphire might become another black child whose long odds depended on a single parent, and that parent was him.
Oil spill in California (5/22/15, Big Picture): Considering how many web sites and media outlets regularly produce photo galleries, I am often surprised at how few do it as well as the Boston Globe’s Big Picture.
Their format seems so simple, but it is so rarely replicated: post high-resolution, screen-filling photos, curated from some of the world’s finest photography agencies, and buttress them with brief but precise descriptions that provide the viewer with a powerful visual experience steeped in context.
Here’s the group’s latest effort, following a 105,000-gallon oil spill in California earlier this week.
Have a suggestion for “3 Great Stories of the Week”? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.