3 GREAT STORIES: Starring silver linings at difficult times

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.

‘Awesome’ cat survives fires in Wears Valley (11/30/16, WBIR-TV): The three stories I’m showing this week share a common thread.

They all deal with uplifting moments during trying situations.

No story this week, for example, captured the attention of the Southeast like the massive wildfires in Tennessee. So many reporters have done valiant work reporting on the harder elements of the situation, but others have produced similarly poignant pieces about the glimmers of positivity and hope amidst the tragedy.

WBIR-TV solo video journalist Becca Habegger does so here. She finds a family who lost its home and narrowly escaped as it caught fire. The parents and four children got out, as did their two dogs. For a while, though, they could not find their two cats. Habegger shows what happened when they did, and it’s a great moment.

Mystery memorial stands for nine killed on I-30 in December tornado (11/30/16, WFAA-TV): In this story, Dallas reporter Marie Saavedra and photojournalist Brandon Mowry focus on an event from, not last week, but last year.

A tornado that ripped through the region last Christmas killed nine people.

But as the one-year anniversary approaches, someone has put up a memorial along the highway — one for which nobody will take credit.

Saavedra doesn’t interview anyone for this story, but she shows her expertise by capturing the details. For example, the number “54” is written on the memorial, and one wouldn’t know why without Saavedra’s explanation. Mowry sets the mood with the droning sounds of the highway, and his reporter puts forth a powerful script.

High school runner disqualified for helping foe (11/30/16, KARE-TV): Leading into this story, the news anchor at KARE-TV describes its main event as “terrifying but touching”.

When the story ends, and the camera returns to the anchor, she is holding back tears — as is the weatherperson standing next to her.

For what it’s worth, so was I when I watched this beautiful piece from Boyd Huppert.

I have shouted out Huppert quite a bit on this page, and so often I applaud his ability to find the beauty in stories where it might not seem obvious. In this case, though, the touching moment — and I won’t spoil it — is vivid and caught on video, and Huppert deftly writes around it to let it shine.

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.

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