Every week, I will 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.
I cannot remember the last time I traveled somewhere that had triple-digit weather.
But this past week, I took a two-day jaunt to Dallas for a story about the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. It was a powerful experience … and hot, definitely hot.
Perhaps I am in a Dallas state of mind, but I chose two Dallas-related stories — one of which indirectly relates to JFK’s assassination — to lead off this week’s “3 Great Stories”. The final story takes us to the Twin Cities for a landmark moment, covered in tremendous fashion by the video wing at the area’s biggest newspaper.
All three stories features wide, multi-dimensional windows into their main characters.
Mystery from the grave behind Oswald’s, solved (8/9/13, New York Times): Among the circles of relevance surrounding JFK’s assassination, Nick Beef probably lands as far from the center as possible.
For nearly half a century, “Nick Beef” has simply been known as the name on the gravestone immediately beside that of Lee Harvey Oswald. No one was sure whether “Nick Beef” was an actual person, let alone whether said person was still alive.
Now, we know.
Nick Beef is alive, and he is actually a self-described “non-performing performance artist” living in New York. He reveals himself to Dan Barry of the New York Times; through Barry’s paragraphs, he comes off as quite the morbid soul.
Something else happens in Barry’s article. Dealing with a subject — the assassination — that has been dissected so many times through the years, Barry examines a man whose own story is relatively unremarkable. The mystery of Nick Beef winds up more fascinating than his emergence.
But Barry does not try to oversell his subject. He simply recounts Mr. Beef’s story in a way that allows us to get to know the man in question, and he solves an age-old mystery in the process.
Let’s talk Mavs #MFFL (8/3/13, BlogMaverick.com): Welcome into the mind of another Texas legend.
This time, the legend is also the author.
Mark Cuban is, among other things, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. In his spare time he writes a blog that offers candid looks at a variety of subjects. His most recent entry is unprecedented in the amount of behind-the-scenes insight it offers into a team’s decision-making mindset.
In “Let’s talk Mavs #MFFL”, Cuban breaks down several summers of important personnel decisions, in many ways trying to justify the moves that have caused the Mavericks to struggle ever since winning the NBA championship two years ago. He does it in classic Cuban fashion, including smiley-faces and an animated video (itself a marvelous reveal into how Cuban and the Mavs tried to sign superstar Dwight Howard this summer) along with a healthy dose of unflinching declarations.
Since its publication last week, the entry has received large amounts of attention from the basketball world. Agree with it or not, give credit to Cuban for continually putting himself out there — even while defending decisions that have not necessarily worked out for the best.
Phil & Harvey: the 38-year engagement (8/2/13, StarTribune.com): Leave it to the video department at a newspaper to produce one of the most moving stories of the year.
Phil Oxman and Harvey Zuckman are two men in their 60’s who have been in a relationship together for more than half their lives. But they had never been legally allowed to marry … until this year.
Phil and Harvey become one of the first gay couples to get married in Minnesota, and the video team at the StarTribune follows them as they prepare for their wedding and eventually take part in it. With no narration, and using mostly the words of the two protagonists, this story is a magnificent look into the complexity of emotions facing the men, both in their past and as they look forward. The photographers capture understated yet touching scenes (like the pair’s joy in receiving their legal documents, or the awkwardness with which they argue over their wedding outfits), and they construct a powerful portrait that reaches its climax with a highly-attended, highly joyous wedding.
Give credit to the whole crew behind this one — McKenna Ewen, Baird Helgeson, Janet Reeves, and Jenni Pinkley, according to the credits — for a job extremely well done.
Have a suggestion for “3 Great Stories of the Week”? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.