3 GREAT STORIES: Starring marathoners, bourbon guitars, & bus drivers

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.

#whyirun: The stories of five runners of the Twin Cities Marathon (10/6/16, KARE-TV): My blog has been a little sparse lately, due to a vacation and my observance of the Jewish High Holidays. But even though I won’t be posting a full entry this week (Wednesday, my normal posting day, is Yom Kippur), I wanted to shout out three stories from last week that made me smile.

The first comes from a man I once interviewed for my podcast and who has since been featured regularly in this space: Ben Garvin. The photojournalist/videographer has become a never-ending source of creative storytelling at Minneapolis/St. Paul’s KARE-TV.

Here he presents a five-in-one profile of runners in the Twin Cities Marathon, but he does it with a visual style that is unparalleled. He uses dramatic photographs and slow-motion videos, and he never speaks; he simply uses the audio of interview clips from the runners themselves, creating an arresting and eye-catching piece.

I am a huge fan of what Garvin brings to the table, and I love the creativity and passion he injects into this field.

Six-string slinger combines bourbon and music to make art (10/5/16, Michelle Michael): Here is another example of a storyteller unbound by TV news’ traditional reins.

Michelle Michael is a former NPPA Solo Video Journalist of the Year who has since left the business, but last week she popped up with this YouTube post of, as she says, her first time picking up a camera in six years.

She hasn’t lost her touch.

Michael produces a seven-minute feature — non-narrated, just like Garvin’s — about a Kentucky man who uses bourbon barrels (and, it seems, bourbon itself) to make guitars. The whole thing is beautifully slow; Michael uses pans, rack focuses, and a bunch of deliberate photographic techniques to absorb the viewer, all while the guitarist provides a sweet and lovely soundtrack. It’s an enjoyable watch.

Bus company owner goes above and beyond for his students (10/5/16, KARE-TV): Finally this week, here is another instant classic from KARE-TV legendary reporter Boyd Huppert.

In this story for his weekly series “Land of 10,000 Stories”, Huppert provides a seemingly straightforward — but, in reality, far deeper — portrait of a bus driver and company owner who takes extra measures for his students. As with so many terrific Huppert pieces, he writes a steadily building narrative that keeps the viewer transfixed.

But there’s another star journalist at play here.

Chad Nelson was the photographer and editor of this story, and he does both jobs magnificently. I am so impressed with the skill in his shooting; he frames, colors, and holds shots in a way unmatched by most. For parts of the story that could potentially be visually slow (like using photographs), Nelson finds a way to make them shine.

This is a top-notch storytelling team.


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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