3 GREAT STORIES: Starring a fallen star, Conan, & hockey in Iowa

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.

Last week I spoke of wanting to include more pieces of straight-ahead reporting in this column, as opposed to pieces of opinion and analysis.

Two of the stories chosen this week are strong examples of such storytelling: taking newsworthy items and presenting them in a creative way.

The third is a clip from Conan O’Brien.

(Two out of three ain’t bad, I guess …)

For Victor Page, reality of fall from stardom difficult to grasp (10/15/13, Washington Times): Interestingly, this story is labeled as “analysis/opinion” by the Washington Times.

But I found it a powerful example of enterprise journalism about a one-time local legend.

Nathan Fenno writes about the fall from grace for former Georgetown basketball star Victor Page, who is currently in jail. Despite signing an agreement to do the interview with Fenno, Page insists on getting paid and forces the writer to talk with the player’s former agent instead.

This is a tough, sad read.

But Fenno allows that sadness to speak for itself. He does not interject his own opinions or flowery words; he realizes the power in simply recounting his futile attempts to get Page to speak.

And when he does finally find Page’s agent, Fenno has to break the bad news of Page’s imprisonment. It is one of several brutal exchanges.

Media reacts: Yeah Baby edition (10/18/13, Conan): As you know, I do not limit my examples of great storytelling to stories told by journalists.

Sometimes comedians get the nod.

In this clip, Conan O’Brien skewers journalists, specifically those in local TV news, who in this case identically report the news about comedian Mike Myers having a baby.

It’s pretty funny — and potentially (although probably not) a wake-up call to producers and anchors who simply regurgitate the story scripts they receive from news feeds. One can actually look at this as savvy, sign-of-the-times commentary. In an era where all media — even local TV — reach a global audience from the Internet, can local news outlets expect to get away with publishing the same content one can find everywhere else?

O’Brien can probably relate. This situation is similar, I think, to how comedians can no longer trot out the same material for years without people noticing. The Internet — particularly YouTube and other video sites — prevents that from happening.

First game: fans go wild for hockey (10/14/13, WHO-TV): Using the previous clip as inspiration, why not celebrate a local TV journalist who takes a chance?

Photojournalist Eli Gardiner of WHO-TV produces this reporter-less package that relays the sights and sounds of the Iowa Wild’s first game.

It marked the first professional hockey game in Des Moines in four years.

Gardiner kicks off the story with a great montage of pre-game clips. Then he combines highlights of the game with sound bites from the fans.

Of course, in doing so, he finds that fans tend to love watching on-ice fights and screaming in-unison chants.

It’s a fun time, to be sure. Gardiner finds a creative and memorable way to tell the story of this significant event.


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

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