3 GREAT STORIES: Starring the importance of exposure

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.

Success as a storyteller comes in many different forms, but to me, it partially occurs when one exposes new or underrepresented viewpoints to a wider audience.

This, at times, is a truly difficult task. Sometimes, I feel, as media consumers, we rely so much on our own eyes and experiences that we naturally give shorter shrift to the filtered, seen-through-the-news experiences of others.

This week’s 3 Great Stories are all pieces that provide powerful insights that do not usually break through to the mainstream.

This is why poor people’s bad decisions make perfect sense (11/18/13, Huffington Post): A quick piece of background: this past week, through a leadership development program, I participated in a “simulated society” exercise, where dozens of us split up into regions and participated for a full day in an alternate world where people were randomly assigned to varying levels of money, power, and location. I was grouped in the poorest, we-have-nothing region.

And it was shocking.

It was shocking to see how people responded when placed outside of their comfort zones. Even in a game format, I felt emotions that I never imagined I would feel if I faced that situation in real life. And in the poorest region, our priorities were so much different than those of the other regions. We were essentially playing a different game — a much more urgent, desperate game.

With that experience under my belt, I possess even greater appreciation for an article like this one from Linda Tirado. She details her experiences as someone who self-describes as poor, and she discusses a similar mindset in real life to what my group saw during our game. I won’t spoil much, but this is a strong piece that gives exposure to a viewpoint rarely found in traditional news.

Pregnant prison inmates find support during birth (11/15/13, KARE-TV): Similarly, renowned Twin Cities TV reporter Boyd Huppert uses his superb storytelling skills to spotlight the miracle of child birth … when the mother is a prisoner.

Aided by the photography and editing of Jonathan Malat, Huppert does some real reporting here, delving into the issue of prisoner child birth and how much it affects the region financially. He also does some touching storytelling, following an expectant mother through the moments of her child’s birth and the heart-breaking scene in which she must say good-bye to her newborn and return to jail.

Huppert has made a name for himself as one of the best storytellers in television news. For him, and his news department, to choose to apply that treatment to a story like this is a triumph.

John Kerry will not be denied (11/21/13, Reuters): Finally, this piece from David Rohde ranks among the longest I have ever featured in this segment; it clears 9,500 words.

It, too, provides exposure — to the behind-the-scenes machinations of the White House and Secretary of State, and to negotiations and situations in foreign countries.

Technically this is an opinion column, but it does not read like one. Rohde seems to include all perspectives in his approach, exerting great effort to profile Kerry’s critics as well as his supporters. Much like Ken Auletta’s profile of lame-duck New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, this piece feels comprehensive and informative … and worthy of 9,500 words.


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

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