3 GREAT STORIES: Starring LeBron, Carmelo, & ice hockey

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.

Brotherhood (3/23/16, Bleacher Report): Early on in “Brotherhood”, Howard Beck’s infinitely engrossing long-form story about the friendship between two basketball superstars, one of those stars makes a poignant statement.

“In our sport, or sports in general, everyone wants instant oatmeal,” says LeBron James. “Put it in the microwave, hit 30 seconds, you got a meal. Sometimes, no matter how great you are, it doesn’t happen like that.”

Now replace “sports” with “journalism”. In this era, many audiences — and news bosses — demand “instant oatmeal” from journalists, seeking and investing in clickbait and easy answers over more layered, complicated work.

Stories like this prove what one can get by waiting for a splendid meal.

Beck presents a fascinating portrait of two players — James and Carmelo Anthony — whose friendship and rivalry have provided a powerful undercurrent to the NBA’s past dozen years. This piece made headlines for a different “instant oatmeal” quote, where James muses how he would love to, one day, join forces with Anthony. But that quote comes at the end. The rest is a beautiful blend of smile-worthy memories, did-you-know-that stories, and revealing quotes from two of the league’s best.

The Lowe Post – Howard Beck (3/31/16, ESPN): Perhaps more unbelievable is that, as a journalist, I found this behind-the-scenes interview about Beck’s article nearly as revelatory as the article itself.

Zach Lowe, who has long stood as one of my favorite current sports journalists, provides another vastly insightful conversation. He calls Beck and encourages him to break down how the LeBron-Carmelo story came together. To hear the back story — how Beck landed the interviews, how he made certain decisions as a writer, how he consulted various people on how to end the piece — is simply fascinating.

I always appreciate sports journalists who leave me with a better understanding of — and connection to — the games they cover. Lowe does this repeatedly, and his interview with Beck is the latest success.

Hockey in the hood (3/29/16, WBFF-TV): This past week, WBFF-TV in Baltimore rightly received one of the highest honors in video journalism.

The FOX affiliate was named as the National Press Photographers Association’s 2015 East Region Station of the Year.

If stories like this are any indication, they will be tough to beat in 2016 as well.

Paul Gessler is a rising star multimedia journalist who, in this story, profiles a local hockey program designed to provide stability and positivity for at-risk teenagers. He layers the piece with sobering reveals, from an anecdote about one of the kids’ parents to a statistic about how many of these young men will wind up in prison.

Kudos to Gessler — and WBFF — for shining such a sensitive spotlight on this type of program.

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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