3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Bill Cosby, Beijing, & the Vikings

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’m no longer afraid”: 35 women tell their stories about being assaulted by Bill Cosby, and the culture that wouldn’t listen (7/26/15, New York Magazine): Strength in numbers has rarely seemed so personal.

This piece, written by Noreen Malone of New York Magazine with a portfolio by Amanda Demme, may go down as the definitive story about the many accusations of rape facing comedian Bill Cosby. At the very least, it became a viral sensation this past week for its sheer volume: 35 Cosby accusers stand both together and individually, offering their personal recollections while painting a brutal picture of the once-beloved actor.

Two facets of this story stand out. First, the research: one does not simply get 35 women to come forward publicly about this kind of subject. This undoubtedly required time, effort, and trust, which all show in the resulting piece.

But I also admire the thought that went into how the publication would present this. Everything is done both powerfully and tastefully, right down to the cover photo: the 35 accusers all sit on individual chairs, with an empty seat at the end. Malone, meanwhile, provides poignant context throughout her article, which is a difficult but important read.

At the 2022 Winter Olympics, no snow is no problem for the IOC (7/31/15, New York Times): If the above story brings the weighty subjects of rape, fame, and gender inequality into one digestible punch, this piece does so with the seemingly less weighty topic of the Olympics.

The headline seems light, as if opening the door for a feature about the 2022 Winter Games, which were announced this week to the city of Beijing. But writer Juliet Macur quickly dismisses that notion with her first line: “It’s a sad day when the International Olympic Committee cannot even clear one of the lowest bars for choosing the host city for the Winter Games: snow.”

It is sad, Macur says, and she spends the rest of her editorial explaining why. She lambastes the IOC for enabling a snowless, seemingly impractical wintertime city host the treasured Winter Games. Then she hits hard on the lessons that, she says, should have been learned about Beijing — and China — from its last venture as an Olympic host:

There are serious problems — again — to having Beijing play host. In 2008, those who projected that bringing the Games there might open up China saw nothing of the sort. Potential protesters were detained, some sentenced to “re-education through labor.” Websites were blocked. A day after the closing ceremony, thick, yellow pollution returned to the city’s sky. Seven years later, the only use for most of the dusty, unloved venues from 2008 was as a lure for another chance at the Games in 2022.

Facebook video, Vikings training camp (7/30/15, KARE-TV): See this title? It doesn’t really exist.

KARE-TV in Minneapolis/St. Paul posted this video to its Facebook page. The station did not title it, and, from what I can tell, did not post it on its own web site. This went straight to social media — an unorthodox approach for a just-as-unorthodox bit of storytelling.

Ben Garvin was just hired by the NBC affiliate as a photojournalist — for not video, but photos. He accompanies traditional news crews on certain shoots and, with a far better camera than an iPhone, snaps the pictures that wind up on the station’s web site.

Here Garvin does something else: he uses his time at Vikings training camp to put together a photo essay — with rich audio attached — about a grandfather and grandson enjoying their experience together. This is an inventive way to tell a story that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

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

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