3 GREAT STORIES: Starring the Smokies, immigration, & Nina Simone

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.

Fire on the Mountain (2/24/17, WTVF-TV): If I wanted, I could probably devote my whole column to this one documentary.

“Fire on the Mountain” is a 30-minute special from the team at NewsChannel 5 in Nashville, widely regarded as one of the best storytelling stations in the country. It takes a look back at the wildfires that raged through the Smoky Mountains in late 2016.

The special consists of a series of moving, well-written, beautifully shot stories, largely from standout reporter Chris Conte. But I want to specifically highlight the final piece. Former podcast guest Jason Lamb reports about how the area has moved forward, and his sublime script is matched only by the photography of Mike Rose, Angie Dones, and (another former podcast guest) Catherine Steward.

The rise of anti-sanctuary cities (3/1/17, CityLab): I mentioned last week my appreciation for an article from The Marshall Project that examined the question of immigration with an informative lens.

Ditto for this piece.

Writing for CityLab, Tanvi Misra discusses a new edict from the Department of Homeland Security that could grant greater authority to local jurisdictions to help carry out the Trump administration’s immigration agenda. But that authority comes from a controversial program, and Misra explains all sides of how it works and where it can be found. As with the Marshall Project story, I really appreciated Misra’s thorough research and digestible presentation of the situation.

Saving Nina Simone’s birthplace as an act of art and politics (3/2/17, New York Times): “If you wanted to make a pilgrimage to the childhood home of W.E.B. Du Bois in Massachusetts or Malcolm X in Nebraska,” writes Randy Kennedy in this piece for the New York Times, “you’d have to settle for a historical marker: The houses of those civil rights activists were lost before preservationists could save them, as many important African-American historical sites have been.”

With this paragraph, Kennedy introduces the stakes for the effort to save the birth home of singer and activist Nina Simone. Kennedy spends the rest of the article explaining why Simone means so much in the small town where she was born — and why four artists pooled their money together to buy her old home.

As usual, the Times steps up its game for the web with a variety of accompanying visuals. A scroll through Kennedy’s story will show photos of the old home, digital exclusive videos, and even an embedded YouTube clip of one of Simone’s more famous songs.

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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