3 GREAT STORIES: Starring barbers, David Ortiz, & moving forward

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.

Twin barbers keep Fillmore County groomed and giggling (5/1/16, KARE-TV): This story is a virtual clinic on how to put together a TV news feature.

Naturally, it comes from the reporter who does features better than anyone in the country.

Boyd Huppert of KARE-TV in the Twin Cities worked with photographer Chad Nelson on this, and together they produced an ultra-enjoyable story about two barbers who seem to love two things above all: cutting hair and laughing. I hesitate to say much more, because I would prefer for you to see for yourself.

But I will say this: any up-and-coming reporter should watch this story twice. The first time, sit back and enjoy it. The second time, pay attention to everything Huppert does to craft a beautiful piece: his thoughtful, open-hearted voicing; his ability to write in and out of sound bites; and his way of building a story to a resolution that brings it all together.

David Ortiz fulfills promise to hit home run for Cheyenne boy (5/1/16, KUSA-TV): Here is another story to make you smile … and another example of how to build up to a powerful moment.

Reporter Dan Grossman and photographer Mike Grady of 9News in Denver put together a piece about, as its web story says, “a modern-day version of Babe Ruth’s famously called home run”. The story’s headline gives away who called his shot, but it does not prepare you for the smile-worthy journey that comes beforehand.

Grossman writes a tender script, but I particularly admire Grady’s ability to squeeze a variety of wonderful shots from a tight space. Together, they produce a story that melted this Yankee fan’s heart, despite its Boston Red Sox subject.

427: Ten years without Jen, twenty-six with (4/25/16, RogerEbert.com): Finally this week, here is a first-person journal that provides a deep, introspective, and powerful look at life after love.

It comes from Matt Zoller Seitz, a TV critic and the editor-in-chief at RogerEbert.com. Ten years ago, he lost his wife to a heart attack. His life since has been a sea of emotions I hope I never experience.

But through essays like this, Seitz has grieved both publicly and poignantly, offering a look into how he has moved forward to learned to accept so much about life. This entire entry provides some well-thought nuggets, such as these:

Let me give you another example: the observance of April 27.

Friends have said, This must be a hard week for you, or The tenth anniversary must be especially difficult. That’s nice of them. I appreciate it.

But I honestly can’t say that it is that difficult anymore. I’ve stopped trying to control the day, plan the day, force the day to have meaning. And now the day is usually rather pleasant—the kind of low-stress, intimate day that Jen used to enjoy.

I’m open to all this now. I don’t overthink it like I used to. I accept it emotionally and intellectually but I don’t freight it with more meaning than it can handle. I accept it as part of the natural order of things, more evidence of how your life is always writing itself without your asking it to.

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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