3 GREAT STORIES: Starring homelessness, Solange, and facts

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.

Under the Bridge: a virtual reality visit with homeless in Seattle (1/19/17, KING-TV): The first two stories I’m featuring this week are significant for breaking new ground in messy circumstances.

Let’s start with “Under the Bridge”, a 360-degree mini-doc produced by KING-TV’s Toby Rigby and Matt Mrozinski (himself a recent Telling the Story podcast guest). They work with photographer/activist Tim Durkan to explore a homeless camp in Seattle, and they devote five minutes to providing immersive looks and raw moments.

One cannot take on a new frontier without growing pains, and this production definitely presents a few from a storytelling standpoint. Watching it on my phone in a public place, I struggled at times to figure out where I was supposed to be looking. I often needed to take a few seconds during moments of dialogue to actually spot who was speaking.

But this is foremost an inspiring effort. Rigby and Mrozinski use the 360-degree space in innovative ways, from the opening titles to a sea of surrounding photographs towards the end. I applaud their dedication and perseverance here, and I look forward to seeing what they do next.

White House pushes ‘alternative facts’. Here are the real ones (1/22/17, New York Times): Political journalists are also facing a messy frontier: how to handle the presidency of Donald Trump.

Many have been taken aback in recent weeks by the president’s seeming disgust for the mainstream media, and this weekend they outright scoffed at the White House using “alternative facts” about the inauguration.

I have been fascinated by how publications like the New York Times and Washington Post have tried to maintain their legitimacy while not seeming partisan. The Times, at first glance this week, has taken the following tack: call out the president and his team for every falsehood they push. In some cases, that strategy has seemed to me to be presumptive, discussing Trump’s mood and tone as opposed to checking his facts.

This article, from Nicholas Fandos, shows how you properly check facts while removing emotion. Fandos simply posts Trump’s words and writes the truth underneath. Not surprisingly, his piece has quickly become one of the most viewed stories on nytimes.com. The straightforward headline and attitude, I think, reflect an appropriate approach.

Episode 94: Solange, “Cranes in the Sky” (1/16/17, Song Exploder): I have long been a fan of the “Song Exploder” podcast, which brings on an artist to break down the creation, production, and lyrics of one of his or her songs.

But this past week’s episode, with Solange reflecting on her hit single “Cranes in the Sky”, was an all-time highlight.

The songwriter provides insight into seemingly every line, backing vocal, and musical instrument. She clearly seems game for the podcast’s desire to explore deep beyond the lyrics, and the show’s producers weave those elements with precision and beauty.

By the time the podcast ended, I wished it could keep going.

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

Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at matt@tellingthestoryblog.com. You can also follow Matt on Facebook and Twitter.

One thought on “3 GREAT STORIES: Starring homelessness, Solange, and facts

  1. Mason Thomas says:

    I would have to say that this segment of the blog is my favorite. As a hopeful journalist, I find it encouraging to have an outlet to many different great articles and news outlets. In this time of uncertainty and wonder, journalists have to step out of their comfort zone, and be groundbreaking. P.S: ‘Cranes in the Sky’ is a marvelous song.

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