3 GREAT STORIES: Starring FSU, lists, & Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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.

The only obviously common thread between the three stories below is that they were all written.

I offer no TV pieces this week, nor anything from radio or video. I have selected three pieces that appeared on the Internet this week; one is the online edition of a print story, one is a web exclusive, and one is a republished magazine interview from 33 years ago.

The only other common thread? They are all insightful and memorable.

A star player accused, and a flawed rape investigation (4/16/14, New York Times): Wow.

This is how you research, write, and present a piece of investigative journalism.

Instantly one of the most widely spread articles of the week, Walt Bogdanich’s in-depth look at the Jameis Winston rape investigation produces incendiary highlights throughout. From interviews with relevant parties to a timeline of the events in question, Bogdanich offers a thorough look at what was done — and what was missed — throughout the aftermath.

No wonder the article has invoked such a reaction — both from Florida State, where Winston just led the football team to a national title, and from readers, many of whom followed the Winston coverage intently last fall.

10 reasons you will read this Medium post (4/18/14, Medium): If the above New York Times article succeeds by telling us what we don’t know, this post — on a much more frivolous topic — succeeds by explaining what we do.

Ryan Shmeizer, who is not a journalist but a venture capitalist, puts forth an extremely clever piece about listicles and why they attract us. He does so, of course, with a list of his own, using the very techniques he describes to keep us reading all the way through.

For each point, Shmeizer embeds an overload of links, many of them to scientific journals and the like. You likely will not click on too many of them, but you will be impressed by his mastery of the subject.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Art of Fiction No. 69 (Winter 1981, Paris Review): Shmeizer’s article discusses storytelling and connecting with people from an impersonal, scientific vantage point.

Perhaps, after reading it, you might be interested in hearing from a more emotional, intangible perspective.

Such is the case here, as the Paris Review has unearthed a 33-year-old interview with Gabriel Garcia Mareuz, the legendary author and journalist who passed away last week.

Sometimes the best way to eulogize a wordsmith is through that person’s own words. Of all the articles I have read in the past few days about Garcia Marquez, nothing captivated me more than listening to his own words. I particularly liked this passage, where he compares journalism with carpentry:

Writing something is almost as hard as making a table. With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood. Both are full of tricks and techniques. Basically very little magic and a lot of hard work are involved. And as Proust, I think, said, it takes ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration. I never have done any carpentry but it’s the job I admire most, especially because you can never find anyone to do it for you.

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

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