3 GREAT STORIES: Starring the value of photos in TV storytelling

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.

Stains on the sidewalk: picturing Baltimore’s murders (1/9/18, WBFF-TV): Turns out a photo can make for some poignant video. Turns out a year’s investment in a project can pay off in six stellar minutes.

Reporter Paul Gessler and photographer Jed Gamber of WBFF-TV spent twelve months tracking the mission of Amy Herbert, a photographer with a school project. Her plan? Document each Baltimore homicide from the previous year, exactly one year later. Herbert graduated but continued the work. Gessler and Gamber continued to check in. They found moments and scenes that are displayed in their final product: a powerful piece to kick off 2018.

This man’s mission: document all of Denver’s neon signs (1/10/18, KUSA-TV): Denver photographer Mark Stein has his own project: snap a still of every neon sign in his home city. A local videojournalist decided to follow him.

Mike Grady of KUSA-TV produced an homage to Stein: a video story told almost entirely through photographs. It feels like a TV version of a photo essay, and it’s worth a watch. I shouted out this station last week for using 360-degree video to uniquely tell a familiar story. Grady continues the trend.

You are the second person (6/17/13, Guernica): I spent last week in journalism school, consuming thousands of narrative words as part of my MFA program at the University of Georgia. Most of the words came from pieces published far earlier, and I choose to highlight one that stunned me with its ferocity.

Kiese Laymon is an author and essayist who, in 2012, was an aspiring novelist trying to get his publisher to put out his book. In 2013, three weeks after the book finally came out, Laymon delivered this blistering examination of race, writing, publishing, and identity. He spoke at last week’s residency, and I remain captivated at his ability to establish voice and place so quickly in his work. This piece – with plenty of NSFW language – displays that voice.

Have a suggestion for “3 Great Stories”? 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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