military

A soldier’s return: why the story outranks the tool

I pride myself on using powerful cameras, wireless microphones, and slick digital editors to capture the finest images and sounds – and then using my station’s on-air signal to present them on television.

But I am constantly reminded how none of it matters without compelling content.

The other day I was on a plane to Greensboro, N.C. to do some behind-the-scenes work at one of our affiliates. I spent the entire flight with headphones in my ears, which meant I completely missed when the captain described what was happening under my seat – and would soon occur right outside my window:

Our plane was carrying the remains of a U.S. Army sergeant who served during the Korean War … and who was finally coming home, 65 years later.

I spent the flight entirely unaware of this. But then we landed, and I lifted up my window shade to see, standing outside, nine young men in military uniforms.

I did not know what they were doing, but I immediately pulled out my phone.

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3 GREAT STORIES: Starring pop songs, pizza, & football

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.

Hit charade (October 2015, The Atlantic): How much do you want to know about how a chef prepares your meal? What about how a litany of behind-the-scenes employees prepare your favorite songs?

The answers to the latter come from this absorbing article, written by Nathaniel Rich for The Atlantic (with a major hat-tip to author John Seabrook, whose book The Song Machine supplies much of Rich’s material). With no concern for spoiling or party-pooping, Rich dives into the factories that produce, with seeming cold-hearted machinery, an increasing number of the hits that grace the Billboard charts.

Much of this story’s success derives from its thoroughness; Rich, through Seabrook, dives into the subject with great detail. It shows in paragraphs like this, including some wit from a writer basically saying Santa Claus isn’t real:

Pop hitmakers frequently flirt with plagiarism, with good reason: Audiences embrace familiar sounds. Sameness sells. Dr. Luke in particular has been accused repeatedly of copyright infringement. His defense: “You don’t get sued for being similar. It needs to be the same thing.” (Dr. Luke does get sued for being similar, and quite often; he has also countersued for defamation.) Complicating the question of originality is the fact that only melodies, not beats, can be copyrighted. This means a producer can sell one beat to multiple artists.

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