local news

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.

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3 GREAT STORIES: Long live the local news feature

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.

Confession: I love watching a good local TV news feature.

Whereas many stories on television are so serious, these stories bring the levity. Also, because they deal with lighter topics, they often bring out more creative storytelling, since  reporters and photojournalists can have a bit more fun with them.

Enjoy the following three features — partly for their storytelling, but also because they will likely make you smile.

Frankfort senior’s dream of flying takes flight (7/4/13, WKYT-TV):  I did not love everything about this story. Specifically, I did not love the first 90 seconds. Reporter Sean Moody and photojournalist John Wilson tell a perfectly fine story about a senior citizen who reminisces beautifully about her departed husband.

It is an OK start but not totally unfamiliar ground and not particularly memorable.

And then the hot-air balloon comes in.

You quickly learn that the senior in question, Jean Broome, has been offered the opportunity — by her nursing home — to ride in a hot-air balloon; it is her “next trip” after taking so many adventures with her husband. Then the photography gets gorgeous, the writing gets truly poignant, and the personality of the story’s subject comes out in droves.

Again, the first minute-and-a-half of this story is fine on its own. But the last two minutes are outstanding, and the feature as a whole will absolutely warm your heart.

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PODCAST EPISODE #2: Ed Kilgore, Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Famer

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At the end of my latest podcast interview, with my former co-worker and dean of Buffalo sportscasters Ed Kilgore, the former WGRZ-TV sports anchor reminded me of a conversation we once had during a slow moment at work.

Apparently (and I vaguely remember this), I asked Kilgore — in all sincerity — if he felt Tommy Lee Jones had underachieved.

And then, he recalls, we seriously discussed this topic for several minutes.

Such is the spirit of Ed Kilgore. He is a man who enjoys discussion, no matter what the topic. I shared a cubicle with Kilgore during my time at WGRZ-TV, the NBC affiliate in Buffalo, and I always knew I could rope him into a deep conversation if I so desired. Kilgore, like myself, enjoys thinking about and dissecting topics — even a topic as seemingly silly as Tommy Lee Jones’ movie career.

Kilgore joined me for Episode #2 of the Telling the Story podcast. A quick bio: he worked at WGRZ-TV for 40 years before retiring last month. He covered four Super Bowls, the Miracle on Ice, and pretty much every big recent sporting event involving the city of Buffalo. He was inducted in 2010 to the Buffalo Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and he is by far the most famous sports anchor to have graced Western New York.

In the podcast, we touched on very little of this, because the last decade of Kilgore’s broadcasting career was arguably the most interesting in the context of storytelling. He saw his role change, learning how to edit highlights and becoming a force on social media, and experienced a much darker period in Buffalo sports (the NFL’s Bills have not made the playoffs in more than a decade, and the NHL’s Sabres have not played in a Stanley Cup since 1999).

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