3 GREAT STORIES: Starring breaking news at WBFF

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.

Man in animal costume shot after making bomb threat at Baltimore’s FOX45 (4/28/16, WBFF-TV): This past Thursday, a major news story played out in front of a TV station’s eyes … or, more accurately, its parking lot and lobby.

According to the story, a man wearing a panda costume set his car on fire in the parking lot of WBFF-TV, Baltimore’s FOX affiliate. Then he demanded “the station air a story he brought with him on a flash drive” and “threatened to blow up the building after being denied entry to the station’s lobby”. The building was evacuated, police arrived, and the suspect was eventually shot but not killed by officers.

And the station’s news department kept working.

The entire newsroom contributed to live coverage, even when they possessed no access to their building. Moreover, they produced compelling work while dealing with the uncertainty of a very real and likely scary situation. I give immense credit to all involved.

Candy bar bomb (4/28/16, WBFF-TV): In the aftermath of that day at WBFF-TV, two of the best storytellers in the business continued to work.

Jed Gamber and Kathleen Cairns, both previous guests on the Telling The Story podcast, have also been shouted out in this space on multiple occasions for their tremendous work last year in hostile environments.

(They will be speaking on that subject at this year’s NPPA Southeast Storytelling Workshop. I highly recommend you sign up.)

In this case, they kept themselves composed and produced a powerful summation of all that happened. I am simply impressed with their poise under pressure.

Inside Rio: the mystery behind the artist and his Selaron steps (4/27/16, WBBH-TV): The 2016 Summer Games are less than 100 days away.

This story is a great way to whet your Olympic appetite.

Reporter Peter Busch and photojournalist Scott Reilly of WBBH-TV, the NBC affiliate in Fort Myers, Fla., took advantage of a week in Rio de Janeiro to produce some enjoyable features. This one spotlights the Selaron steps, a fading attraction that received a second life thanks to, of all things, a music video by Snoop Dogg and Pharrell.

Busch and Reilly do a strong job here of keeping the mood light and their story intriguing. They also use their access to give viewers a window to a place likely unvisited by most.

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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