king-tv

3 GREAT STORIES: Starring homelessness, Solange, and facts

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.

Under the Bridge: a virtual reality visit with homeless in Seattle (1/19/17, KING-TV): The first two stories I’m featuring this week are significant for breaking new ground in messy circumstances.

Let’s start with “Under the Bridge”, a 360-degree mini-doc produced by KING-TV’s Toby Rigby and Matt Mrozinski (himself a recent Telling the Story podcast guest). They work with photographer/activist Tim Durkan to explore a homeless camp in Seattle, and they devote five minutes to providing immersive looks and raw moments.

One cannot take on a new frontier without growing pains, and this production definitely presents a few from a storytelling standpoint. Watching it on my phone in a public place, I struggled at times to figure out where I was supposed to be looking. I often needed to take a few seconds during moments of dialogue to actually spot who was speaking.

But this is foremost an inspiring effort. Rigby and Mrozinski use the 360-degree space in innovative ways, from the opening titles to a sea of surrounding photographs towards the end. I applaud their dedication and perseverance here, and I look forward to seeing what they do next.

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3 GREAT STORIES: Starring seafarers, Greenland, & Super Mario

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.

Seattle mission serves foreign ship crews who cannot come ashore (12/28/16, KING-TV): As we turn the calendar to 2017, here is a touching, deceptively straightforward piece worth watching from 2016.

Ted Land with Seattle’s KING-TV is an especially talented solo video journalist, as well as a one-time podcast guest of mine and one of the interview subjects of my new how-to book for MMJs, The Solo Video Journalist. He is also a former National Edward R. Murrow winner for writing, and in this story he displays why.

Land tackles a seemingly simple subject — a Christian group that puts together care packages for foreign seafarers who dock in Seattle — but puts immense care into every word and shot. One needn’t work too hard to spot picturesque shots along the Pacific Ocean, but Land goes further and finds some of the most beautifully framed clips of video I’ve seen all year (2016, not this year).

That work ethic shows up throughout the piece, and it culminates in a winner of a story from a tremendous storyteller.

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PODCAST EPISODE #45: Matt Mrozinski, founder, Storytellers

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Many of us in the TV news business spend the years of our 20s trying to “make it”.

We expend all of our energy building our craft, learning from others, staying afloat, and climbing the ladder to a point of relative stability in a ruthlessly unstable industry.

Then we get to our 30s, and we make a conscious choice to begin to give back.

I know I went through that process. It’s why I started this blog four years ago. It’s why I almost always accept requests to speak at workshops and conferences. It’s why I helped organize and direct a workshop back in June.

(It’s also why I have been working on an exciting project for which I’ll be making a special announcement next week.)

And it’s why I began the Telling the Story podcast, in which I always devote a segment with my guest about advice for younger journalists.

My guest on this episode has fulfilled the same calling in a magnificent way.

He is the director of photojournalism at KING-TV in Seattle, but he is perhaps even more highly regarded as the founder of Storytellers, a web site and Facebook group for critiques and conversation that just cleared 10,000 members — almost all of whom are current journalists, news managers, and media professionals.

He is Matt Mrozinski, and he is my guest for Episode #45.

I have been a member of the Storytellers group for several years, but I had never heard how it began until interviewing Mrozinski for this podcast. I found his story fascinating, mainly because he did not start the group with the intent of reaching thousands of people. On the contrary, he stumbled upon its success — but then seized the opportunity to ensure its growth in a meaningful way.

I really enjoyed this interview and believe you will too. Mrozinski gives great insight into how the Storytellers community has benefited its members; he even provides some self-proclaimed “BREAKING NEWS” about future plans.

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3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Team Ortho, Kyle Korver, & laughter

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.

Running for a cause? (11/12/15, KARE-TV): One of the hardest jobs in reporting for television? Making investigative stories look good.

TV stories are often built around moments, and with many pieces, one finds those moments naturally and visually. Investigative journalists must produce those moments informationally and confrontationally — a much tougher task in a visual medium.

In this piece, KARE 11’s A.J. Lagoe and Steve Eckert show how it’s done.

Uncovering deception and monetary misuse from a local non-profit, the duo layers this story with “Didja see that?” moments. Eckert edits nicely the sequence that shows the misuse of funds over several years, and Lagoe leaves the viewer with a jaw-dropper through his final revelation and confrontation with the man behind the non-profit.

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3 GREAT STORIES: Starring candles, Peru, & a dozen scientists

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.

Hundreds gather in Roseburg to mourn shooting victims (10/2/15, KING-TV): On its own — and, really, that’s all that matters — this is a powerful story of the upsetting, unfiltered emotions of a community after last week’s school shooting in Oregon.

What makes it more impressive, from a behind-the-scenes standpoint, is how quickly this story was produced: from start to finish, in 70 minutes.

KING5 reporter Alex Rozier and photographer Dan Renzetti were dispatched to Oregon to find compelling stories, and they discovered one here in a candlelight vigil at a nearby park. Renzetti makes some beautiful maneuvers in his shooting and editing; I found particularly poignant his allowing a candle to naturally light one interview subject. Rozier writes the piece with care and context.

I would love to hear their takes on this, but I imagine the compressed time frame forced a certain level of precision and focus. Regardless, Rozier and Renzetti produce a package that brings home the emotions of a tragic situation.

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3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Mother’s Day, Berlin, & cake

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.

Anna Jarvis was sorry she ever invented Mother’s Day (5/8/15, BuzzFeed): Cinco de Mayo the classic example of a holiday “celebrated” by so many who know nothing of why it exists.

But what about that other May holiday?

I had little knowledge of the origins of Mother’s Day and was fascinated by this article, which explained them. But Joel Oliphint goes further. Writing for BuzzFeed, he examines the life of the holiday’s founder, Anna Jarvis, who crusaded to both make Mother’s Day a reality and then prevent its commercialization. She was portrayed in the media as a eccentric spinster, but was she?

Oliphint succeeds here by applying a modern-day lens to historical questions. He gives Jarvis a fair shake in every debate about her personality and tactics (she even went after non-profits for, she said, coopting Mother’s Day for their own causes), but he refrains from offering knee-jerk sympathy. Beyond that, he writes an article that is simply interesting from top to bottom.

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5 lessons from the NPPA’s best video stories of 2014

Effort.

It’s the one through-line of every great story I see.

Television news constantly forces the hands of the people who bring it. At various points throughout the evolution of a story, a reporter, photographer, or multimedia journalist must decide when they have done enough:

Did I do every interview I can do for this story, or do I need to find another?

Do I have enough footage for this story, or do I need to shoot more?

Is this script exactly as I want it, or should I read over it again?

How much time do I have to keep editing, or do I need to submit my story for air?

These are the questions that daily confront TV news journalists, and they are often answered by the ticking clock of the deadline. But more than that, they come down to effort.

I thought about this frequently as I watched this year’s video winners for the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism awards.

In each one, I saw numerous moments that only succeeded because the winning photographer made an extra piece of effort, be it during the gathering or editing process.

This year, I was one of those winning photographers; as I mentioned last week, I received 1st place in the category of Solo Video Journalism: General News. I won for the story of a Madison County, Ga. man who rescued a baby on the side of the road; the piece went viral and aired, in slightly edited form, on NBC Nightly News. As I wrote then, that story is a quintessential example of the value of effort.

Here are four other winning entries that I found particularly powerful — and the lessons I took from them: (more…)

3 GREAT STORIES: Starring November sweeps (Part 2)

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.

Ferguson business keeps windows clear as others board up (11/20/14, KARE-TV): We begin this week with where we left off last week: with a powerful piece about Ferguson, Mo. from the storytelling team of Boyd Huppert and Jeff Christian.

This piece is deceptively straightforward, focusing on a husband and wife who opened a burger bar one day before the shooting of Michael Brown … and have since kept it open, while other businesses have boarded up all around them.

The best TV pieces often thrive on moments — those uninterrupted glimpses that the viewer seemingly experiences right along with the subject of the story. Huppert and Christian find several of those here, helping to bring three-dimensional humanity to the coverage of Ferguson.

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PODCAST EPISODE #19: Ted Land, reporter, KING-TV

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When I started in broadcast journalism, I encountered a very vocal school of thought from more experienced colleagues regarding backpack journalists — or, more simply, reporters who shoot and edit their own stories.

I was told repeatedly that the rise of backpack journalism would (A) be a passing fad in larger markets and (B) bring down the quality level of TV news as a whole because (C) backpack journalists could never do as good a job as two- or three-person crews.

More than a decade later, all three of those predictions have proven spectacularly wrong.

For starters, more and more large-market stations are making room for reporters who do it all. Cost is one reason, obviously; one employee is cheaper than two. But stations can get away with that now because the overall quality of backpack journalism has increased dramatically over the last few years. Check out this winter’s award-winning stories in the NPPA’s quarterly solo video competition. They are strong pieces done by more than a dozen backpack journalists.

And at the top of the ladder, the best backpack journalists can produce work every bit as good as that of larger crews.

The latest example? Ted Land.

This month he begins his new job at the prestigious KING-TV in Seattle. But last month, he received a National Edward R. Murrow Award for writing in small-market TV, all thanks to stories he produced at WSBT-TV in South Bend — by himself.

Let me elaborate. The “small-market TV” category covers reporters, both solo and traditional, who work in any television market outside the top 50. In the category of writing, a backpack journalist bested an entire nation of competition.

Land is my latest guest on the Telling The Story podcast. (more…)