3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Mother’s Day, Berlin, & cake

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.

Anna Jarvis was sorry she ever invented Mother’s Day (5/8/15, BuzzFeed): Cinco de Mayo the classic example of a holiday “celebrated” by so many who know nothing of why it exists.

But what about that other May holiday?

I had little knowledge of the origins of Mother’s Day and was fascinated by this article, which explained them. But Joel Oliphint goes further. Writing for BuzzFeed, he examines the life of the holiday’s founder, Anna Jarvis, who crusaded to both make Mother’s Day a reality and then prevent its commercialization. She was portrayed in the media as a eccentric spinster, but was she?

Oliphint succeeds here by applying a modern-day lens to historical questions. He gives Jarvis a fair shake in every debate about her personality and tactics (she even went after non-profits for, she said, coopting Mother’s Day for their own causes), but he refrains from offering knee-jerk sympathy. Beyond that, he writes an article that is simply interesting from top to bottom.

Seattle group is building businesses, changing lives (5/5/15, KING-TV): As I watched this masterfully told story from KING-TV’s John Sharify and Carolyn Hall Jensen, I found myself in awe that it even existed.

This is the type of piece you seldom find on local TV news: a long-form feature (five minutes total) that deals with a seemingly visually boring issue (aid for low-income entrepreneurs) but is given the space to both develop memorable characters and provide a snapshot of a population few of us ever meet.

Of course, part of why KING wins so many journalism awards is because it allows its star journalists to tell stories in unorthodox ways. Sharify writes in such a way that allows his main character to flourish, but his photographer truly shines, particularly for her editing.

This story, truly, is not visually interesting, but Hall Jensen’s editing makes it so, making quick cuts when needed and holding longer shots that bring more emotion. It all makes for a heartwarming watch.

Berlin battleground, 70 years later (5/4/15, Big Picture): While they were published on the Boston Globe’s Big Picture page, the photographs here are products of one Reuters employee who took on a powerful mission.

Fabrizio Bensch works for Reuters in Berlin, which is where he discovered photos taken by a Russian photographer at the end of World War II. The Berlin of that era had been taken under siege, and the now-yellowish shots reflect that.

Bensch’s response? Buy the exact same camera used to take those photos; head back to the exact same locations; and capture the exact same shots, in black and white, to boot.

Two themes come through Bensch’s photographs: (1) the sense of brightness in modern-day Berlin, and (2) the way in which we can always unearth history amidst our present-day lives.

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

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