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PODCAST EPISODE #44: Jason Lamb, reporter, WTVF-TV

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If you want to get to know my guest on this podcast, you need to watch this video:

It features a young reporter, standing among legends as finalists for the NPPA’s 2016 Reporter of the Year award, awaiting the decision … and then finding out he won.

The reaction is priceless.

The reporter is Jason Lamb.

After about 20 seconds of straightforward shock, the 30-year-old from WTVF-TV in Nashville gives a heartfelt acceptance speech. He talks about the lessons he learned from the other journalists on that stage. He confesses he didn’t really prepare anything to say. And just when he claims to be done, he quickly calls everyone back so he can think the photographer, the ultra-talented (and former podcast guest) Catherine Steward, who shot every story on his award-winning entry.

Lamb is my guest on Episode #44 of the Telling The story podcast.

We certainly discuss his advice for young TV journalists on developing as a storyteller, but mostly we talk about his most recently high-profile assignment: covering Hurricane Matthew for dozens of local news affiliates as it came up the Florida coast. Lamb, Steward, and his team worked 17-hour days and executed loads of live shots; they came back exhausted but satisfied with their work.

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PODCAST EPISODE #37: Jed Gamber, WBFF-TV & Catherine Steward, WTVF-TV

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Awards season is underway in local TV news.

Over the next few months, some of the most prestigious associations in journalism will present lists of winners and honor some of the best reporters and photojournalists in the field.

Photojournalists Jed Gamber and Catherine Steward are off to a great start.

This past week, Gamber and Steward each received one of the highest honors in the craft: being named NPPA Regional Photographer of the Year. Gamber captured the crown for the East region for his work at WBFF-TV in Baltimore, while Steward topped the Central region after a stellar year with WTVF-TV in Nashville. The award they won prizes consistency and versatility and honors an entire year’s worth of powerful storytelling.

Watch their work, and you will quickly see why: these two photojournalists care about awards far less than they care about their audience.

Gamber and Steward are my guests of this episode of the Telling the Story podcast.

They discuss questions of technique, teamwork, and communication, but they speak with such obvious and heartfelt passion. They so clearly believe in the power of storytelling to reach an audience, and they bring that purpose into their work. Any storyteller can learn from what these two have to say.

They are also among the star-studded line-up of 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 — including the two guests on this episode.

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 the discussion of craft with two extremely talented — and newly honored — TV news photojournalists.

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3 GREAT STORIES: Starring police, jail, & train tracks

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.

Ray Tensing: passenger from another stop says UC officer shouldn’t have questioned him (8/4/15, WCPO-TV): Our jobs as journalists often involve editing an overwhelming amount of interviews, documents, and video into one cohesive, compact story.

But sometimes, the best move is to let the video run.

Former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing is currently charged with shooting and killing a 43-year-old man named Sam Dubose, whom Tensing had pulled over for a traffic stop. In this story, a passenger from a separate stop comes forward with an unedited cell phone video in which, he says, Tensing mistreats him.

The resulting story makes for fine TV news, but the unedited video truly provides an education and unique look at how a traffic stop can play out. Kudos to WCPO-TV for posting that as well.

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3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Qatar, Iran, & the last day of school

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.

I returned from vacation Saturday to some great works of journalism.

I was notified of two stories that placed the spotlight on the cultures of foreign countries — stories of international matters that retained a timeless, universal quality.

And I watched an enjoyable piece about the last day of school.

Without further ado, here are this week’s 3 Great Stories:

Qatar’s World Cup (6/1/14, ESPN): This story is absolutely brutal.

In 17 minutes, it will anger you, frustrate you, and do everything short of flatten your heart.

And it is a masterpiece.

Jeremy Schaap and the ESPN team provide a startling look at the working conditions in Qatar, the country that will host the 2022 World Cup. Qatari leaders pledged to put billions upon billions behind it, all while treating their laborers — according to the interview subjects in this piece — like modern slaves.

Credit ESPN for using its expansive resources to do all the necessary legwork for this story — traveling not just to Qatar but Nepal, sending Schaap and a camera crew to Qatari labor camps and risking their arrests in the process, and allowing 17 on-air minutes for the storytellers to do their jobs.

And they do those jobs remarkably well. This is easily the finest piece of television I have seen so far in 2014. (more…)

3 GREAT STORIES: Starring India, Michael Jackson, & therapy dogs

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.

I struggle some weeks to fill this space.

Namely, I struggle, amidst the ocean of journalism, media, and content available online, to find three pieces from a given week that obviously stand out.

This week, I had no trouble.

The following are three great stories from last week, each of which pushes the bar higher in its own way:

Hopes of a generation ride on Indian vote (5/15/14, New York Times): The New York Times is really figuring it out.

For years online content providers have tried a slew of different methods of creating distinct forms of journalism and storytelling. Many advances have focused heavily on technology — interactive maps and graphics, reader polls, etc. — but few have offered a blueprint for aiding the reader in a natural way.

The above article is an example of when online storytelling techniques elevate an already powerful story.

Times writer Ellen Barry gracefully captures the mood of the Indian electorate, in the days and months before this past week’s momentous national elections. Her work receives a great boost from the screen-wide photos and video provided by Daniel Berehulak. This feels like a magazine article, but it brims with vibrancy and emotion because of the layout — and power — of the visuals.

It is an all-around terrific piece. (more…)