I have enjoyed great successes during my career. I have received 17 Southeast Regional Emmy awards and five Regional Edward R. Murrow awards and have three times been named the NPPA National Solo Video Journalist of the Year.
All those successes began with great stories.
And frankly, I cherish the stories far more than any accolades.
Here are several of my favorites from the past few years as a reporter for WXIA-TV/11Alive, the NBC affiliate in Atlanta. With the exception of “The Death of a President”, each of these stories was produced entirely — shot, written, and edited — by yours truly.
This was a difficult and complex story to tell. I felt like it would ring false if I tried to simplify the family’s situation, so I really worked to be as sensitive as possible and inclusive of every family member’s emotions. I was very satisfied with how it turned out.
Stories can go viral for any number of reasons, and they are not always positive. But this one had a unique heart, emanating from its main character. I shot it in all of 90 minutes on a summer Monday. That Tuesday, my story, slightly edited, wound up on NBC Nightly News.
Speaking of viral, this story has been viewed more than a million times on Facebook. Logan’s big moment is one of the most unforgettable I have covered.
I knew from the beginning I had a fun feature on my hands: a hair salon that specializes in Santa Clauses. I shot it one December morning and put it together that afternoon; it’s one of my favorites in terms of pure enjoyment.
I learned a long time ago to prepare, brainstorm, and try to anticipate the moments of a story … and then be willing to discard it all when things take an unexpected turn. That happened at the end of this sad but heartfelt story.
Rarely, as a local TV news reporter, do I get to spend two weeks on one story. Rarely does that story get to be eight minutes long. And rarely do those eight minutes contain an arsenal of powerful interviews from iconic figures. So, when I received the opportunity to work on such a story for an 11Alive documentary on the Civil Rights movement, I knew it would be special.
This may be my favorite feature story. It won the Southeast regional Emmy in 2013 for Best Feature, which meant a great deal to me as a solo video journalist. I was competing against stories from the finest reporter/photographer tandems in the region; this story won, largely because of the wonderful spirit of its subjects.
Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Leave a comment below or e-mail Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.