3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Ferguson, Dr. Dre, and the Perseid meteor shower

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.

Ferguson: the other young black lives laid to rest in Michael Brown’s cemetery (8/7/15, BBC): What an inventive, informative way to commemorate the one-year mark of the killing of Michael Brown.

Jessica Lussenhop, senior writer for BBC News Magazine, visits St. Peter’s Cemetery in north St. Louis County, where “there is still no headstone in the place where 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr is buried”. But, Lussenhop discovers, the cemetery is home to many with similar stories:

If one walks in any direction away from grave number four, there are many more pictures of black men and women who died in their teens or early 20s. Some are grinning in school portraits, or giving the camera their most serious expression. Some stones include a baby picture, or a composite photo of the deceased with their children. One marker is etched with a photo of the young man’s beloved truck.

Within a roughly 30-metre radius of Michael’s grave there are at least 15 homicide victims. The youngest was a 15-year-old. Most of them were shot. There are also deaths by suicide, cancer, car accidents, but for those under the age of 30, the predominant cause of death is homicide.

The difficulty of telling a story like Michael Brown’s comes from the temptation to immediately intertwine the individual incident with the massive context and history surrounding it. Lussenhop succeeds by seeking out the numerous incidents that provide such context; she turns in a appropriately rich story as a result.

The Compton sessions: how Dr. Dre created his comeback (8/12/15, Pitchfork): Dr. Dre is considered, by many, both a legend and a mystery.

His significance as a producer and hip-hop torchbearer are indisputable, but he has rarely allowed music journalists to examine his creative process. When he surprised the music world last week by releasing his first new album in 16 years, he did several interviews but still gave scarce morsels that truly let hip-hop aficionados behind the beats.

Give major credit, then, to Jayson Greene of Pitchfork, who pens a fascinating piece about Dre’s process by circumventing the man himself, instead. Greene talks to Dre’s fellow producers and one of his ghostwriters, enabling them to divulge the kind of details that had been missing for many years. If anything, the article is not long enough.

But consider it a triumph of access and execution.

Perseid meteor shower (8/14/15, Big Picture): The Big Picture will remain a fixture in this space as long as it keeps producing compelling galleries like this one.

The Perseid meteor shower likely brought out a slew of amateur and professional photographers, itching to get that quintessential shot of the fascinating night sky. The Big Picture curators pull from its various photo services — Getty Images, the Associated Press, etc. — to concoct a gallery of magnificent shots.

Beyond that, thanks to the captions beneath the photos, one can learn about the different locations where the photos were taken. Read enough of them, and you will realize that these shots span the world — a globe’s worth of viewpoints of a glorious sky.

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

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