Years ago I interviewed Maury Povich. It taught me about finding my voice

I was 23. I was unemployed. And I feared Maury Povich.

Those are my excuses for one of my first failures in journalism.

I had left my first TV news job without a new one. I U-Hauled home from Sioux City, Iowa and sought freelance gigs while living with my parents. I found a taker – New Jersey State Golf Association Magazine – and an assignment: walk one round with Povich, the talk show host with a 1.0 golf handicap. I arranged to meet at his home course: Hollywood Golf Club in Deal.

Deal hugs the Jersey Shore, but we never went there. “It’s very wealthy,” my mom said years later. “They don’t go to the same beach where we go.”

They don’t play the same golf courses either.


3 GREAT STORIES: The printed, foreign affairs edition

Every week, I will 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.

After submitting three local TV news features for your approval last week, I wondered, “What would be the complete opposite of such stories in the media realm?”

My decision: print stories about international affairs.

(Granted, I did not spend too much time on this question. And that means one of you readers may correct me on whether these are indeed the “complete opposite”, a la George’s salmon-tuna situation on Seinfeld.)

As George would say, “Good for the tuna.”

In the meantime, check out the masterful storytelling — and, in one case, story-obtaining — in these three pieces from last week.

Bin Laden raid reveals ‘state failure’ (7/9/13, Here is that example of story-obtaining, and it is a biggie.

The investigative unit at Al-Jazeera received a copy of a report, commissioned by the Pakistani government, to determine how Osama bin Laden could live in Pakistan for nearly nine years undetected.

Like any modern-day journalistic outfit, they take the correct first step and make the entire report available for viewing online. But beyond that, this piece by writer Asad Hashim — one of nearly a dozen that accompanied the release of the report — details the report’s blunt words about the government’s incompetence throughout bin Laden’s time in the country. The commission even coined a phrase for it: “Governance Implosion Syndrome.”

The commission’s report is scathing; give credit to Hashim and the Al-Jazeera crew for distilling it into manageable, yet quite shocking, terms.