3 GREAT STORIES: Starring innovative storytelling in local TV news

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.

Verify: Homeless camps (4/14/17, WFAA-TV): Across the country, local TV stations owned by TEGNA have been rolling out a segment in their newscasts called “Verify”.

(I say this, in full disclosure, as a TEGNA employee at WXIA-TV in Atlanta.)

I have seen this segment be successful in many forms, but I have never seen it as compelling and relevant as it seemed here, in this piece from WFAA-TV in Dallas. Reporter David Schechter and the Verify team respond to a viewer question by bringing along that viewer to find the answer.

Something about this just … works. Maybe it’s because of the buy-in of the viewer, Felecia, who grills her city councilwoman while developing more perspective about the homeless camp by her neighborhood. Maybe it’s because of the chronological, peek-behind-the-curtain nature of the storytelling. Mostly it’s because this segment took an issue many stations won’t touch (homelessness) and made it engaging in a new way.

Paying it forward from Hawaii to Denver (4/24/17, KDVR-TV): Speaking of engaging, this story about a reporter’s chance airport encounter reminds me of the NPPA Best of Photojournalism-winning piece from Deborah Acosta in the New York.

In both cases, the reporters followed their natural curiosity to unexpectedly satisfying results.

KDVR’s Kevin Torres creates something out of “nothing” here, and it’s great. He is approached for a conversation by a woman at the Denver airport, and eventually he decides to turn on his phone camera and start recording. The conversation begins a chain of events that leads to many smiles and caring moments. That part of the story feels more organic than its concluding action from Torres, but I loved the sentiment overall and appreciated the willingness to take a different road to a powerful story.

KARE11 investigates: double-billing the badge (5/3/17, KARE-TV): Finally, here is an example of a much more straightforward approach that relies — and succeeds — on strong research and investigation.

A.J. Lagoe, an investigative reporter for KARE-TV in the Twin Cities, is one of the best at not just doing his homework but conveying it in a way that makes sense. Lagoe and investigative producer Steve Eckert dig into a car dealer double-charging local police departments for equipment. It could be a boring topic, but Lagoe and Eckert structure their story in a way that continues to build with details and layers.

They track down the person responsible, confront him at his home, and produce an TV investigation that ultimately leads to a criminal one. Straightforward? Yes, and very effective.

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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