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.
Towards the end of last week’s podcast with KDVR photojournalist Anne Herbst, the two-time NPPA Regional Photographer of the Year offered this piece of advice to young journalists about storytelling:
“I’ll get these really wonderfully shot stories … and I don’t care about them at all because there’s not a compelling person,” Herbst said. “You can have all these pretty shots of mountains and sunsets, but in the end what you remember is the person and the story.”
With that in mind, I selected several stories this week that thrived because they found a great person within them. The authors do not provide a whole lot of flair in their storytelling; instead, they let their characters do most of the talking. And because they do, their stories shine.
(Oh, and if that’s not your bag, I also chose an enjoyable, semi-fascinating story about cereal boxes …)
But this story is as good as they come.
Reporter Sara Celi mostly hangs in the background here, putting the focus on the people of Bethel Acres, specifically a staff sergeant of the Air Force who walks stoically at the start of the story, clutching an American flag in his hand.
His name is Alan Burch. His quest, to hang and fly the flag in the middle of the wreckage, is beautiful — as is the show of support from the community members who aid him.
Photographer Norris Kyles documents the action step by step as Burch and his team accomplish their mission. Then he cuts to a shot of Burch saluting Old Glory. In that shot, Burch’s trademark stoicism gives way to a swell of pride in his eyes. It’s a touching moment.