3 GREAT STORIES: Starring kids and sweet moments

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.

Little League dedicates field to fallen Thornton soldier (4/18/15, KUSA-TV): The May sweeps period in local TV news has officially begun.

This means, as in previous ratings months, newsrooms nationwide are rolling out some of their juiciest, most heavily produced work.

But sometimes the best stories can be done in a day, and this week I saw three memorable pieces that only required a standard shift.

Here is one from KUSA-TV reporter Jessica Oh and photographer Andrew Christman. Given little to work with visually, they find a way through poignant writing and editing to elevate a relatively straightforward story.

Teen with disability, learning he got a job, will make you smile (4/16/15, WFAA-TV): Same goes for this piece from WFAA-TV in Dallas.

Reporter Jobin Panicker and photographer Mike Ortiz start with a winning moment in their back pockets; they already possess the heartwarming video of a disabled teen who learns, via an acceptance letter, he has received a job with Embassy Suites hotels. The power of the raw video comes from its build-up; the teen, named Ben, reads the entire, full-page letter before he figures out the great news in its words.

Panicker and Ortiz recognize that and similarly build up the suspense in their story. They interweave sound bytes from Ben’s mother, urging her son to finish the letter, and develop Ben’s character in a way that makes the big moment especially powerful — cathartic, even, for a family that had been waiting for it.

Brevard boy gets letter from Yoda (4/23/15, WLOS-TV): Finally, here is a touching and smile-worthy piece from a “3 Great Stories” regular, WLOS-TV’s John Le.

The reporter, with photographer Derek Bryant, both finds the moments in this story and creates his own. Talking about a young boy named Will who, believing Star Wars is real, writes and mails an actual letter to Yoda, Le peppers his script with a bevy of joyous yet not-out-of-place turns of phrase (“junior jedis”, “everyone in the family assumed ‘the force’ is a farce”, “always with the postal service, it can be done”).

The best moment is when, as Le says, “Will went wookie!” Watch it, and enjoy.

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

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