About the “Telling The Story” blog


Matt Pearl is an 19-time SE Regional Emmy-winning and five-time Regional Edward R. Murrow Award-winning reporter for WXIA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Atlanta, Ga. He specializes in human interest pieces and does features regularly for “The Moment”, aimed at being the day’s most unforgettable and emotional stories. During his career, Matt has served as a correspondent from the 2008 Democratic Convention, the 2010 Gulf oil spill, the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, and the 2016 Summer Olympics. His stories have appeared on CNN, MSNBC, The Weather Channel, and most recently NBC Nightly News. In 2013, 2014, and 2015 he was named the NPPA National Solo Video Journalist of the Year. In 2016 he authored The Solo Video Journalist, a how-to book for aspiring storytellers and multimedia journalists, through Routledge and Focal Press.

Matt graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and worked at affiliates in Sioux City, Iowa and Buffalo, NY before taking his current position in Atlanta. He started the “Telling the Story” blog in February 2013.


The following is an excerpt from “The Storyteller’s Manifesto”, Matt Pearl’s first entry of the Telling the Story blog.

As media change, one thing remains constant: storytelling.

I have heard the following adage more than a few times: “If you can tell a good story, you will work forever in this business.” I believe that statement; ultimately, journalism is about knowing to connect with others. Whatever the story, a journalist – or anyone, for that matter – has to know how to best reach his or her audience; if the audience does not care, the story will not make an impact.

To that end, I decided to start this blog: a continuing look at how we tell stories. I will offer commentary, links to great stories, reflections on deeper issues, and thoughts on my own work. I am excited to hear your thoughts, as well. If you see or read a great story, e-mail me at matt@tellingthestoryblog.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Mostly, I am excited to tackle the concept of storytelling. It is the one part of journalism that is not going anywhere.

5 thoughts on “About the “Telling The Story” blog

  1. David Zweig says:

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for your comments about my book, Invisibles. I’d been meaning to reach out to the ATL local TV news shows about the chapter on Hartsfield Jackson. Let’s do a segment! I bet I could get Jim Harding to come down. It’ll give some great local pride and people will be blown away by the behind the scenes complexity of ATL. As I’ve been telling people in interviews: “After you read this you’ll never walk through an airport the same way again.” A segment could be a great teaser into that world.

    All best,

  2. Dear Mr. Pearl,

    We would like to announce our new Crowd Funding Campaign. We have developed a set of 5 Public Service Announcement films to address the issue of Veteran Suicide. These 5 PSAs are a collaboration between the North Georgia Veteran’s Outreach Center and Chosen One Films.

    We have set up our crowd funding campaign with rewards to our backers such as a producer credit for a backer who donates $500.00 and a walk-on part, with a producer and acting credit to a backer who donates $1000.00.

    Smaller donations will also be accepted and there are rewards for all levels of donations. Every backer who donates from $1.00 to $50.00 will receive an I Support Veterans bumper Sticker. A donation in the amount of $50.00 will see the backer receive a signed copy of a script from one of the 5 PSAs. Any backer who donates $100.00 will receive a signed script and cast photo from one of the 5 PSAs.

    The two big rewards for donations will be in the higher range of donations, but the rewards are pretty interesting. For a donation of $5000.00 we will give the backer a speaking part in one of our PSAs, along with an acting and producing credit in the PSA. A donation in the amount of $10,000 will see that the backer gets speaking roles in 3 of our PSAs, along with producer and acting credits in those PSAs.

    The coup de grace, and obviously the most generous of backers donating $20,000.00 will be seen with speaking parts in all 5 PSAs along with producer and acting credits as well. This could well be the opportunity of a lifetime for an actor or actress who wants to build an instant portfolio that will draw major attention at a glance.

    All these benefits go hand-in-hand with the results of the PSAs themselves, which will be to raise awareness and draw more attention to the plight of Veterans facing homelessness, drug dependency, alcoholism, PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury. All symptoms leading to the staggering number of Veteran suicides in the United States, which at this time are more than 22 per day. That’s one every 65 minutes. We need to raise awareness and feel that these, true to life, in your face PSAs will do just that. These films will not be for the squeamish, they will be real life representations of what Soldiers and Veterans see and feel on a daily basis.

    Please help us by allowing us an opportunity to feature our project in your paper. Please help us by allowing us an opportunity to feature our project on 11 Alive. We can provide pictures or a small video to add to the effect.

    You can reach me at this email or the phone numbers below if you need further information or would like to discuss this opportunity further.

    Thank you in advance for your consideration.


    Jerry Edwards
    678-943-2046 (O)
    678-895-3047 (C)

    Veterans Helping Veterans Live Better

  3. Hi Mr. Pearl. Please don’t be offended by my posting this letter to NBA star LeBron James on your website. I have to play the odds that at some point a journalist somewhere will make sure LeBron see’s this letter. Maybe you will be the one. Thanks in advance for your help.


    My name is Rolando Pharr. I am not a stalker or obsessed fan. I just have a very true story that I MUST share with you.

    I’ve tried numerous ways of contacting you since 2007. On February 14, 2010 I sent a condensed email to Cleveland Scene magazine which they posted under the title “The Secret of LeBron’s Greatness Landed In my Inbox.” I was hoping that would get your attention. I guess it didn’t.

    In November 2012, local TV station 19 Action News covered part of this story. They reached out to your mom but never got a response. I’ve decided to reach out to you again through this letter.

    Between January and May of 1985 our lives crossed paths. The story I have to share with you took place during that time. Some people will find it VERY hard to believe. Others will say they knew there was something “Special” about you. Either way, it’s a part of my destiny to tell you this story.

    Your mom is a big part of the story. She was there as it unfolded and she will determine its outcome.

    Will you and your mom PLEASE watch a Youtube video called “LeBron’s Cosmic Connection”. It was my first attempt at a Youtube video. The picture is dark and grainy and you have to cut up the volume but the message hits home. Your mom will recognize me. I considered her a friend. The video will definitely jog her memory.

    “LeBron’s Cosmic Connection” is the untold true story of your connection to Global Icon, Muhammad Ali and NBA icon, Julius “Dr J” Erving. It details how I was carried around on the shoulders of Muhammad Ali when I was 3 years old and how Ali influenced my childhood. It describes how “Dr J” was my idol as a teen and young adult. How I was a member of the best basketball team in Akron called “Free Afrika”. It tells how your mom helped me a few hours a week at the Bottom Half Clothing store inside Rolling Acres Mall and how I sometimes watched you while she ran store errands.

    It also tells the amazing story of how me and five of my “Free Afrika” team mates participated in Christening you to be the next “Dr J”. It’s true. When you were 3 months old, in the middle of The Bottom Half Clothing store, I raised your carry seat in the air three separate times and said “I Christen thee the next Dr J” each time. The second time I raised you above my head my team mates toasted you “To the next Dr J”. When your mom returned from running errands I told her about your Christenings and suggested we do it again. For the third time, with your mom to my immediate right, I raised you in the air and boldly said “I Christen thee the next Dr J”. When I handed you back to your mom she was visibly shaking. That’s why I’m 100% certain she will remember your “Dr J” Christening.

    Did your “Dr J” Christening come true? No human can definitively say that it did or didn’t. Three facts that can’t be argued. When your Christening took place “Dr J” was still the face of the NBA, its most popular player and its most marketed player. You are currently all three of those things.

    Watch all 4 of my Youtube videos. You may find some of my comments about your Cosmic Connection to Muhammad Ali very interesting. I personally believe you were given your Erving-esque basketball skills as a platform to make social change. Much in the way that Ali used his boxing platform. I read a couple of articles recently where people are starting to call you the Muhammad Ali of this generation. I made that statement on one of my videos a couple of years ago.

    There’s more to the story. After you were Christened for the third time my team mates left the store. Your mom and I sat down and had lunch. You were in your carry seat facing us. I made three bold predictions to your mom. I told her that you would be an NBA star. That you would play for the Cleveland Cavaliers and that you would be a high flying player like “Dr J”. We then made a handshake agreement (twice). When you became an NBA star as I predicted, she would see to it that each one of the six men who participated in your “Dr J” Christening would be made a millionaire.

    Ask your mom about your “Dr J” Christening and her millionaires Promise. It’s ironic that the Family Foundation you and your mom created adopted an “I Promise” campaign. Maybe it’s not irony. Perhaps the Universe is testing you. You ask your Foundation kids to make and keep their Promises. Will you and your mom lead by example and honor the 6 million dollar handshake Promise she made when you were 3 months old?

    I have several sworn affidavits from eyewitnesses, and have plenty of concrete evidence to support all but one of my statements. Only two people on the planet can verify that a 6 million dollar handshake agreement took place. Me and your mom. To support my statements on that issue, I signed a sworn affidavit and have taken and passed multiple Polygraph Examinations. Two of those Polygraph results can be viewed @ rolanfarr on Twitter.

    The six men who Christened you have made our own Promises. When your mom honors her Promise, we will donate $120 thousand dollars to Ebony Nettles Bey’s Cancer fund. We will help several area non-profit organizations and have plans to partner with an Akron group to start a scholarship program. Thats just for starters.

    I saw a picture of you and your mom in 2002 and realized that the basketball prodigy from Akron was little Raymone, the baby that I Christened the next “Dr J” and made all the predictions for. You’ve worked extremely hard to become the best basketball player on the planet but give the Universe some credit for the incredible gifts you were given. 6ft 8 inches, 250+ pounds, near world class speed, an eidetic memory, a 40+ inch vertical leap, a 7ft + wingspan, above average sized hands and a high basketball I.Q. Why were you GIVEN these gifts?….I’m sure that answer will be revealed to you eventually. Just remember, you were raised in the air and Christened to be the next “Dr J” by Akron’s best basketball team and by a man that was touched by Muhammad Ali’s greatness. You were predicted to be an NBA star, play for the Cavs and be a high flying player like “Dr J”. Please Respect the Divine Powers of the Universe and its endless possibilities.

    So there you have it. The untold true story that I HAD to share with you. I am predicting that your mom will keep her Promise and you will embrace your Cosmic Connection. Whether this prediction comes true is entirely on you two. Please reach out to Muhammad Ali while you can. I know you’ve met him before but spend some quality time with him. It will change your life.

    There’s a list of coincidences/facts surrounding your Cosmic Connection that will make you go Hmmm. I’ll share those with you.

    For seven years I’ve been hated on, blocked, talked about and ignored but not once has anybody bothered to get an actual response from your mother. Your brand will not suffer from the TRUTH being told. I Promise you that. A timely response to this letter will be greatly appreciated. Follow me on Twitter if you choose to embrace us. Everything else can be handled privately.

    Welcome home….and Congratulations on the birth of your baby girl.

    Warmest Regards,

    Rolando Pharr

    P.S. (Do the right thing)


    LeBron’s Cosmic Connection…..List of Facts

    My name is Rolando Pharr. I’m the gentleman who’s been telling the true story about LeBron James that I have termed “LeBron’s Cosmic Connection”. There are four major players in the story. Myself, LeBron, “Dr J” and Muhammad Ali. Here’s a quick recap…When I was 3 years old Muhammad Ali picked me up and carried me around on his shoulder…Muhammad Ali and later on “Dr J” were my sports idols…I was a member of the best basketball team in Akron. Our name was “Free Afrika”…When LeBron James was 3 months old, I raised him in the air (Kunta Kinte style) three separate times and Christened him to be the next “Dr J” each time…5 of my “Free Afrika” team mates participated in LeBron’s “Dr J” Christening. They raised a toast to him after the second time I raised him up…Gloria James witnessed the third time LeBron was Christened to be the next “Dr J”….I predicted to Gloria that LeBron would be an NBA star, play for the Cavs and be a high flying player like “Dr J”.

    So here’s a list of facts surrounding the four major players. Some people are going to say these are just coincidences. I would like to share this list with LeBron and get his take on it.

    1) My oldest brother, who was a Junior named after our dad, was burned and died in a horrible accident late on the night of January 16, 1942. He was only two years old. Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) was born hours later on January 17, 1942. This is not a fact, but I personally believe their spirits crossed paths at some point in time.

    2) My dad and his first cousin were raised together as brother and sister. Her son is the great boxing trainer Janks Morton Sr…..My cousin Janks knows Muhammad Ali and worked closely with Ali’s longtime trainer and close friend Angelo Dundee. They worked together training boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard. Ray Leonard patterned some of his boxing style after Muhammad Ali’s.

    3) I share the same birthday as LeBron’s High School team mate, best friend at that time, and son of his H.S coach and mentor… Dru Joyce III…..January 29.

    4) Janks Morton’s sister (R.I.P)..was my favorite female cousin on my dads side. She was Sugar Ray Leonards oldest son Ray Jr.’s Godmother. Ray Jr. and Dr J’s daughter Jazmin are friends.

    5) I have four great-nephews. The one that everyone says resembles my living brother has the same birthday as “Dr J”….February 22.

    6) LeBron’s close friend, business partner and confidant is Maverick Carter. I met Maverick’s dad on Copley Rd in Akron when Maverick was a newborn. His dad was looking for an apartment and needed street directions. We talked for about 15 minutes. Part of our conversation was about Maverick’s future. I jokingly said that he would be a gambler (like the Maverick family on the TV western). His dad wanted him to become a businessman. We both concluded that if he just became a good productive citizen that would be cool. His dad gave me an “It’s a Boy” cigar which I kept until the early 2000’s. I never saw his dad again.

    7) My only child’s grandmother, and my favorite aunt on my moms side are both members of the Grandmother’s for LeBrons’ Club.

    8) LeBron and Muhammad Ali’s most famous child, Laila, share the same birthday…December 30.

    9) Only one of the 6 men who participated in LeBron’s “Dr J” Christening is originally from Akron Ohio. Robert Davis graduated from and played varsity basketball for St. Vincent St Mary (1974).

    10) My mothers maiden name initials were LBJ.

    11) My living brother and LeBron’s youngest son Bryce share the same birthday…June 14.

    12) Julius Erving became a professional boxer. Dr J’ s son Julius Erving III, a successful music mogul, decided to become a professional boxer. He was trained by Yahya McClain who was once married to and managed, Laila Ali.

    13) Rich Paul and Maverick Carter’s music / entertainment division of LRMR Marketing is named 77 North. In the early 80’s I had a basketball team that played in NBA HOF’er Gus Johnsons’ Summer League in Akron. Our name was 77 North.

    14) Eddie Jackson Jr, the guy that LeBron called his dad, is my cousin. His grandmother and my mom were sisters. They were very close. He told me that he met LeBron when he was 8 months old. That was 5 months after LeBron’s “Dr J” Christening. We rarely talk. I never told him that I met LeBron before he did or anything about “LeBron’s Cosmic Connection”.

    15) My only sister was born on St. Patricks Day, the Patron Saint of Ireland. Muhammad Ali’s Great-Grandfather was born in Ennis, Ireland. Ali fully embraces his Irish heritage and is extremely popular there. My sister witnessed Ali picking me up and carrying me around on April 9, 1964 in front of the Majestic Hotel on E. 55th and Central Ave. We were born and raised at 59th and Central Ave.

    16) One of LeBron’s commercials shows him leaving the gym he built for St. Vincent St Mary. His jersey is hanging next to former NBA and Cavaliers player Jerome Lane’s. Jerome played on my 77 North squad the summer after his sophomore year of high school. He also played with “Free Afrika” in a few basketball tournaments. To my knowledge, Jerome and LeBron are the only two players from St V. to play in the NBA.

    17) LeBron and Cassius Clay both went to Miami and transformed themselves. In his “Coming Home” letter, LeBron says his four years in Miami helped raise him into who he has become. Cassius Clay went to Miami and became Muhammad Ali (Watch the PBS Documentary, Muhammad Ali: Made in Miami). When LeBron got to Miami he started boxing training at The 5th Street gym. Muhammad Ali and Ray Leonard trained at the original 5th Street Gym which was run by Chris and Angelo Dundee.

    18) LeBron has shown immense love for “Dr J” even though he was two years old when Doc retired and never saw him play in person. In a Fox Sports interview from 2013 he picked “Dr J” as one of his choices for the three best NBA players ever. In a Huffington Post article from 3/18/10 he said that he wore the #6 in the Olympics and was switching to #6 in the NBA because “Dr J” was his second favorite player. He also stated that as a H.S freshman he wore #32 because “Dr J” wore that number first.

  5. RichardLob says:

    Harley Davidson s most powerful marketing isn t the detail about engine size, speed or low-end torque that s written in the brochure—it s the stories riders tell about the feeling they get when they ride one. And often your most effective marketing may not even be done by you.

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