3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Atlanta icons & an Alabama firefighter

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.

#GoodbyeBrenda: 11Alive bids farewell to an Atlanta icon (2/8/17, WXIA-TV): This past week, my newsroom in Atlanta lost a legend.

Longtime anchor Brenda Wood officially retired from local TV news, signing off Wednesday for the final time. I have used this space quite a bit in recent weeks to commemorate Wood and her work in Atlanta.

But I can think of no person better to honor such an icon than our newsroom’s other storytelling standout.

Jon Shirek is a phenomenal writer and a generous soul; I have interviewed him both on my Telling the Story podcast and for my book, The Solo Video Journalist. In this story, he does his homework and encapsulates the career of our colleague with sensitivity and admiration.

It’s a fitting tribute. After all, Wood never lacked command as an anchor; Shirek never lacks it as a writer.

Atlanta Braves to honor a black man – not Hank Aaron – who also helped lead the team to greatness (2/9/17, The Undefeated): One day after Wood departed the anchor desk, a different legend of Atlanta received a unique honor of his own.

Bill Lucas, the Atlanta Braves’ unofficial general manager during their mid-1970s heyday, received a celebration in his name at the Braves’ new stadium.

I did not know the story of Lucas and his multi-faceted role in improving both the Braves and their city, but I found myself absorbing every detail of it. I credit the writer — and former WXIA-TV colleague Sam Crenshaw — for imbuing this article with humanity and intrigue; he tells what could be a rote biography in a way that allows details to build on top of each other.

In the process, Crenshaw produces a piece worthy of its subject.

Firefighter with spina bifida ready for the call (2/11/17, WAFF-TV): As I was writing this column on Sunday, I received a Facebook notification about a story that, I felt, merited inclusion.

Jake Berent, a solo video journalist at WAFF-TV in Huntsville, Ala., posted a story with the following prologue: “I went out to MMJ a VO/SOT for the 5 & 6 on a routine firefighters’ training, then stumbled upon a fantastic story I knew I could pack for 10.”

To translate: Berent was sent as a one-person crew to grab a quick soundbite on a mundane topic, but he discovered a hidden gem that he could turn into a longer piece for a later newscast.

That’s what happens with this story about a local firefighter with spina bifida. Berent’s effort is on full display, and while some of the shots are rough, the intent and writing carry the day. He presents this story with obvious care and passion, and he offers a great lesson to young storytellers in taking the initiative.

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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Enter your email and keep up to date ...