3 GREAT STORIES: Starring popcorn, Xerox, & night hockey

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.

Why popcorn also jumps (2/17/15, New York Times): I have not done any research to see what other videos exist online of popcorn popping.

I will only say: I have never seen one this breathtaking.

The video is a supplement to an article from New York Times science writer James Gorman, who also narrates and appears in it. He reports on how French scientists have discovered why popcorn kernels don’t just pop; they also jump, ever so briefly, vaulting in the air as they spring to life.

The article is perfectly interesting, if short, but the video brings it home. Credit the Times team for investing in whatever equipment was needed to get these pristine shots. The popcorn here looks like it is pirouetting in the air.


MY OLYMPICS JOURNEY: A different view of USA-Russia

If you watched this weekend’s instant classic USA-Russia hockey game, then you probably had the same view I did.

Check that. You probably had a much better view.

Despite being a few hundred yards from where the game was being played, I saw none of it in person. I watched it from, not the Bolshoy Ice Dome, but the International Broadcast Center.

On a 12-inch television.

With no sound.

But I would not trade that experience.

When covering the Olympics, few journalists actually get to see many events. The action takes place across multiple venues and times, and the media receives limited seats. Aside from that, reporters like myself focus most of our work away from the venues, telling stories about fans, atmosphere, and ambiance.

I got lucky once last week, stumbling onto Rosa Khutor Extreme Park in time for a gold medal performance, but otherwise I have not seen a single event.

But I have tried to watch. I love the Olympics, and I become enthralled by specific events. I have been able to watch many on TV here in Sochi, from men’s half-pipe to women’s curling.

But nothing has compared to USA-Russia.


3 GREAT STORIES: Starring a fallen star, Conan, & hockey in Iowa

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.

Last week I spoke of wanting to include more pieces of straight-ahead reporting in this column, as opposed to pieces of opinion and analysis.

Two of the stories chosen this week are strong examples of such storytelling: taking newsworthy items and presenting them in a creative way.

The third is a clip from Conan O’Brien.

(Two out of three ain’t bad, I guess …)

For Victor Page, reality of fall from stardom difficult to grasp (10/15/13, Washington Times): Interestingly, this story is labeled as “analysis/opinion” by the Washington Times.

But I found it a powerful example of enterprise journalism about a one-time local legend.

Nathan Fenno writes about the fall from grace for former Georgetown basketball star Victor Page, who is currently in jail. Despite signing an agreement to do the interview with Fenno, Page insists on getting paid and forces the writer to talk with the player’s former agent instead.

This is a tough, sad read.

But Fenno allows that sadness to speak for itself. He does not interject his own opinions or flowery words; he realizes the power in simply recounting his futile attempts to get Page to speak.

And when he does finally find Page’s agent, Fenno has to break the bad news of Page’s imprisonment. It is one of several brutal exchanges.