3 GREAT STORIES: Starring ATL, EW, and the inventor of Twister

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.

I always appreciate when a journalist can frame a familiar subject in a completely new light.

This applies to major issues, of course, but it also relates to more seemingly frivolous topics.

If a common thread exists among the following three stories from last week, it would be the storyteller’s ability to bring new appreciation to seemingly simple matters.

How you know where you’re going when you’re in an airport (6/12/14, The Atlantic): For the second straight year, I have purchased a book based on nothing but a brief passage.

Last year it was Andrew Carroll’s brilliant Here Is Where. This year it is David Zweig’s Invisibles.

And this passage is what got me to click “PURCHASE”.

Zweig tours the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, and studies the meticulous ways in which its designers enable it to function without error.

(Almost without error, anyway. This is an airport we’re talking about.)

This particular selection is not long, but it remains informative and well written. A reader can choose to take the preferred next step — buying the book — or walk away having still gained a nice perspective into the inner workings of airports.

The trials of Entertainment Weekly (6/10/14, The Awl): Much like the author of this article, I too spent much of my teenage years reading Entertainment Weekly.

I never knew of the magazine’s behind-the-scenes battles.

I definitely did not realize those battles were so fascinating.

But thanks to The Awl, and writer Anne Helen Petersen, now I do.

Petersen covers, as is said in the sub-headline, “24 years of corporate torture”, which is fascinating considering the seemingly banal nature of Entertainment Weekly. She captures the forces at play behind the success and struggle of a straightforward magazine, with this paragraph framing the mood:

EW‘s rise, scattered identity, brilliant heyday and slow, gradual decline mirrors the same journey of Time Warner’s conglomerate hopes and dreams. The leading magazine company weds a film and television giant? It all looked so great on paper. But here we are with the EW of today, and it’s clear: Just because it looks pretty in a business plan doesn’t mean it’s a good idea at all.

Inventor of Twister still amazed by game’s success (6/10/14, KARE-TV): The last time I thought about the game Twister was probably near the last time I thought about Entertainment Weekly.

But Twister was more universally beloved.

In this story, Boyd Huppert and Rob Collett capture that spirit while digging into the board game’s back story.

The makers of Twister came from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, which made them an enjoyable choice for a profile. For extra footage, Huppert and Collett set up a Twister board game in the park … and invite passersby to join in. Their enthusiasm reminds us why we would watch a story about Twister, and it elevates the piece to a higher level.

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

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