3 GREAT STORIES: Starring advice, Roger Ailes, & a big ear

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.

A farewell guide to political journalism (9/2/16, The Atlantic): When several people I respect Tweet their love for a piece of journalism, I pay attention.

That’s why I clicked on this link, unaware of its subject matter or even its author.

But my expectations were exceeded.

The title here connotes a hot take or think piece mourning the death of political journalism. In reality, it is the opposite; retiring writer Ron Franklin offers the lessons he learned in three decades as a political journalist — lessons that will, one would hope, inspire his successors to keep pushing.

His most empowering takeaway? This paraphrased passage:

“Until that moment, I assumed the people we covered in politics valued pushover journalists. … That might be true on the small stories, but not for the stuff that matters. … I left the meeting knowing that if I ever returned to journalism, I didn’t want to be taken for granted liked the first reporter. I wanted to inspire in my sources … respect and fear.”

The revenge of Roger’s angels (9/2/16, New York Magazine): Speaking of unflinching journalism — if not necessarily political journalism — this piece is absolutely brutal.

Gabriel Sherman wrote the literal book on former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, and he uses his extensive network of sources and a trove of research to pen this takedown. This piece lasts more than 7,000 words, and one would be hard-pressed to pick out which ones hit the hardest.

Sherman touches on seemingly everything Ailes-related: his relationships with his staff at FOX News, his impact on America’s history, his relationship with Donald Trump, and where all sides go from here. This isn’t a happy story by any means, but it’s a powerful one.

#KARE11ear: What can’t you believe? (8/29/16, KARE-TV): That said, how about we close with a happy story?

I promoted, through the previous two stories, the value of journalism that demands the truth and requires research and tenacity to achieve it. But I also appreciate storytelling that reflects a mirror of ourselves and puts smiles on our faces.

Here is a huge dose of cotton candy: KARE-TV social guru Ben Garvin unpacks a giant homemade ear and asks a variety of seemingly simple questions to visitors to the Minnesota State Fair. I could link to any number of videos he produced this year, but I’ll choose this one, where he writes on a clipboard and lets guests go to town on the question, “What can’t you believe?”

It’s straightforward and human — two qualities that can be elusive but, when paired in a piece like this, can warm the heart.

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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