3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Qatar, Iran, & the last day of school

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.

I returned from vacation Saturday to some great works of journalism.

I was notified of two stories that placed the spotlight on the cultures of foreign countries — stories of international matters that retained a timeless, universal quality.

And I watched an enjoyable piece about the last day of school.

Without further ado, here are this week’s 3 Great Stories:

Qatar’s World Cup (6/1/14, ESPN): This story is absolutely brutal.

In 17 minutes, it will anger you, frustrate you, and do everything short of flatten your heart.

And it is a masterpiece.

Jeremy Schaap and the ESPN team provide a startling look at the working conditions in Qatar, the country that will host the 2022 World Cup. Qatari leaders pledged to put billions upon billions behind it, all while treating their laborers — according to the interview subjects in this piece — like modern slaves.

Credit ESPN for using its expansive resources to do all the necessary legwork for this story — traveling not just to Qatar but Nepal, sending Schaap and a camera crew to Qatari labor camps and risking their arrests in the process, and allowing 17 on-air minutes for the storytellers to do their jobs.

And they do those jobs remarkably well. This is easily the finest piece of television I have seen so far in 2014. (more…)