3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Amazon, Isaiah Austin, & insurance

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.

The War of the Words (December 2014, Vanity Fair): It lasts six web pages and covers so much, but this story impresses me most because of its restraint.

Writing for Vanity Fair, Keith Gessen discusses the landscape surrounding the current battle between Amazon and book publishers, who feel they are being squashed by a behemoth. He gives a great summary of the current disputes; more importantly, he provides powerful context.

Isn’t it funny how Amazon was initially seen as a force of good for the publishing industry, a counterpoint to the giant chain bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders? Now Amazon is the giant, and in many ways, Gessen writes, its ascendance represents the more cyclical nature of business rather than a sea change. This poignant paragraph sums it up:

The dispute between Amazon and the publishers is a dispute between an e-commerce giant and companies that have for generations been printing text on paper. In some respects it is also a dispute between the East Coast and the West Coast. It is definitely a dispute between hyper-capitalism and cultural conservation. But in the end it is a dispute that comes down to different visions of the future of the written word.

Isaiah Austin daring to dream again after NBA hopes dashed (11/4/14, Sports Illustrated): If Gessen succeeds by surveying the landscape of a major story, the following article works by following up on a story that had largely been forgotten.

Isaiah Austin became the toast of the NBA Draft this past June when, after receiving a diagnosis of Marfan syndrome and an abrupt end to his career, the highly touted prospect was symbolically drafted by the league. The media has since moved on, and Austin must still figure out how to move forward after such a drastic and disheartening life change.

Thankfully, David Gardner picks up where the initial story left off, talking about Austin’s progress as he forges ahead. He points out the positives in Austin’s story and captures several sincere, moving moments during the player’s journey.

A war hero’s battle over insurance (11/3/14, KARE-TV): Typically, when I shout out the Twin Cities’ KARE-TV in this space, I am referring to its dynamic storytelling duo of Boyd Huppert and Jonathan Malat.

But a different duo came through this week with a brutal look into a major problem.

Investigative teammates A.J. Lagoe and Steve Eckert put together this story about a Vietnam War veteran whose insurance claims were denied numerous times by CNA. The injustice is unsettling, but it is brought home through a heartbreaking vessel: the veteran himself, Jerry Mansheim, who is presented by Lagoe and Eckert as a hero in need of help.

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

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