chris hansen

3 GREAT STORIES: Starring leftover gems from 2017

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.

Terry Crews: How to have, do, and be all you want (12/10/17, Tim Ferriss Show): I spent much of December catching up on podcasts, and I couldn’t stop listening to this one.

The Tim Ferriss Show often features engaging guests, but actor/former NFLer/furniture designer (?) Terry Crews captivates from Minute 1 to Minute 100. Ferriss knows how to prod a guest into a revealing story, but in this case he recognizes when to sit back and let Crews dominate. The guest provides piles of anecdotes about his childhood in Michigan, struggles with family and Hollywood, and words of inspiration for anyone needing a boost. (more…)

5 lessons from the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism 2016 video winners

Every year I watch the video winners of the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism awards.

Every year I go back to the same thought:

The building blocks of storytelling are absolutely important to a great piece of journalism, but they require the foundation of a story worth telling.

If we cannot get in the door with meaningful material, we cannot expect viewers to appreciate the various techniques on which we pride ourselves. Last year I profiled several BOP winners on this site and drew lessons from them. In my introduction, I wrote: “The best stories I saw last year demanded my attention, and I watched zero of them on television. I watched all of them online, via links and recommendations from colleagues and friends. I arrived upon them organically and, when I clicked on the videos, found myself instantly engrossed.”

Ditto for 2016. In general, the stories that won BOP awards — and stood out in public as well — were triumphs of content over technique.

Here are five first-place winners and the lessons I took from them:

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3 GREAT STORIES: Starring India, SNL, & Soldierstone

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.

Fulfilling a promise, Jewish center in India reopens after terror attack (8/26/14, New York Times): Here is an example of what the New York Times often does so well.

Writer Gardiner Harris tells the story of a Jewish center in India that had been “attacked and gutted during a 2008 killing rampage by Pakistani gunmen”. A week ago, the center re-opened, with a group of Hasidic men from Brooklyn having flown to Mumbai to help dedicate it.

The facts of the story are interesting on their own. But Harris elevates them by surrounding them with context, a summary of Jewish history in India, and personal perspectives. Sometimes, as journalists, we complete a story and wonder if we have covered everything worth mentioning in our tiny allotted window.

This is a complete story, and Harris — with his editors, for giving him the space — deserves credit for a job thoroughly done. (more…)