investigations

PODCAST EPISODE #38: Chris Vanderveen, reporter, KUSA-TV

Play

Sometimes we forget the cold hard potential of what we can accomplish in journalism.

Chris Vanderveen is a good reminder.

(As evidenced from his photo above with the Most Interesting Man in the World, he also knows how to keep good company.)

After more than a decade as an award-winning general assignment reporter for KUSA-TV in Denver, Vanderveen applied for a job within his station to join the investigative team. He got it, and he has been throwing journalistic haymakers ever since.

Specifically, Vanderveen has produced stories and led movements that have changed laws.

He brings a storyteller’s sensibility to the often tough-to-digest world of investigative journalism. I-Team stories tend to come across as an overload of numbers and data, except when in the hands of a reporter who can give viewers a reason to care.

Vanderveen is my guest on this episode of the Telling the Story podcast.

He is also one of the many tremendous speakers at this year’s NPPA Southeast Storytelling Workshop, being held June 10th and 11th in Atlanta. I am organizing and co-hosting the conference with photojournalist (and one-time podcast guest) John Kirtley of WLOS-TV in Asheville. We welcome anyone looking to improve as a storyteller and receive inspiration from some of the best in the country. Vanderveen has the hardware to back up his credentials, including recently being named a finalist for NPPA Reporter of the Year.

Click here to learn more and register for the conference, Feel free to e-mail me with questions at the address below. In the meantime, enjoy this look into the power of investigative journalism, with great tips on how to do it right.

(more…)

3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Batman, Oregon, & Tamir Rice

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.

Batman (1/9/15, NPR’s This American Life): Whenever I listen to This American Life on NPR, I marvel at its producers’ ability to consistently find truly fascinating stories.

They then turn those stories into enthralling hour-long programs.

This month’s “Batman” episode fills the bill. I actually rolled my eyes a bit at the title and constant references to the super-hero, which seemed somewhat forced and even subjective in glamorizing the program’s main subject.

But that subject — a blind man who can ride bikes and hike, among other things — and the program’s overall examination of the capabilities of the blind make for a superb listen. Producers Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller weave their way through a story that absorbs from start to finish.

(more…)

15 seconds or less: Meditations and ruminations on online video

Here are, for your consideration, some anecdotes and observations from the past few weeks:

*****

While out on a story several weeks ago, I met a reporter for a local Patch.com site; Patch is a web-based news operation brought to you by the folks at AOL. This reporter had her cell phone out, prepared to use it as a video camera.

We talked briefly about online video, and she made the following statement:

“My editors tell me my video can’t be any longer than 15 seconds. Anything longer than that, and people won’t watch.”

*****

While out on a different story, I met a newspaper reporter who is investing his time in a video piece to put online. He has spent many days, often on weekends, investing in a mini-documentary that currently stands at ten minutes. He said he will likely finish the piece in the next few months.

The only problem? He cannot find anyone who wants to use it — or, more specifically, any media outlet that knows what to do with it.

*****

A non-industry friend and I were recently discussing my job, and she asked if I treated my stories differently depending on which show would use it. In other words, would I tell a story for the 11 pm news differently than I would tell that same story for our morning show?

I said, while I did make certain concessions and alterations for the show-specific audiences, I ultimately had to assume that the story would see its greatest interaction online. For the most part, web readers and viewers do not care about the show in which the story ran; they watch the story independently of that.

(more…)