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Logan lives on: the triumph of a heart-warming story

I just spent most of August covering an event that captivates the world. I worked at the 2016 Summer Olympics for three weeks, produced 36 packages, made dozens of social media posts, and wrote 13 entries for this blog. Many of those packages, posts, and entries spread a great distance and performed very well both on-air and online.

But my most-read blog post from last month? It had nothing to do with the Olympics. It wasn’t in any way new; I had written it ten months earlier. And it was read nine times as much as the second-most popular post.

It was about a young man who has now touched hearts as worldwide as the Olympics.

It was about Logan.

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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: Best of 2014, written edition

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.

Having done the “3 Great Stories” segment all year long, I now face the challenge of picking my favorites.

But I have picked them, and here they are.

I will post my three favorite audio/video stories of the year next week. This week, without further ado, I present my three favorite written pieces of 2014, along with what I wrote about them back then, with minor edits for clarity:

#3) A star player accused, and a flawed rape investigation (4/16/14, New York Times): Wow.

This is how you research, write, and present a piece of investigative journalism.

Instantly one of the most widely spread articles of the year, Walt Bogdanich’s in-depth look at the Jameis Winston rape investigation produces incendiary highlights throughout. From interviews with relevant parties to a timeline of the events in question, Bogdanich offers a thorough look at what was done — and what was missed — throughout the aftermath.

No wonder the article has invoked such a reaction — both from Florida State, where Winston just led the football team to a national title, and from readers, many of whom followed the Winston coverage intently last fall. (more…)

3 GREAT STORIES: Starring James Brown, Times Square, & airports

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.

The whitewashing of James Brown (8/5/14, Huffington Post): Each of the “3 Great Stories” this week were alerted to me by others, each through social media.

I read about this article from one-time “3 Great Stories” honoree Tina McElroy Ansa, who Tweeted about it a few days ago. I became a big fan of Ansa’s when I discovered a speech of hers on The Moth, and she recommended a powerful piece here.

Screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard pens an op-ed for the Huffington Post about the startling lack of black voices behind biopics of black figures. Using the new James Brown movie as a starting point, Howard dissects an all-too-familiar situation =:

Indeed, all the producers, writers, and the director of the James Brown movie are white. No black people were hired until a few weeks before the cameras started rolling, the actors. In fact, several of the people involved in this whitewash are British.

The opening of Get On Up has triggered several articles to this effect, and they make powerful and valuable statements. Howard does several things here: (A) fight for his idea about Brown’s legacy, (B) lament the “Hollywood apartheid” against black filmmakers, and (C) provide enough background and hard data to make both points. (more…)

PODCAST EPISODE #11: Alexa Keefe, National Geographic photo producer

Play

I am hooked on exquisite photographs.

I subscribe to several blogs that curate great photography — I wrote about them in a recent entry — and I find myself constantly coming back to them as I scroll through the various feeds and media that dominate my daily reading.

And I am absolutely not alone.

Alexa Keefe is a photography producer for National Geographic and curates the “Photo of the Day” series for the magazine’s web site. And with every picture she posts, thousands of viewers share it.

Keefe is my guest on this week’s Telling The Story podcast.

She has worked as a photo archivist and editor, but now Keefe is responsible for curating beautiful content in an era where photographs are more ubiquitous than ever. In doing this, sites like National Geographic have thrived. On the podcast, we discuss why.

“With the ubiquity of photographs on the web now, I think the focus has shifted toward curation,” Keefe said. “There’s just so much to look at, so much to consume, that I think we need that more and more.”

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PODCAST PREVIEW: Alexa Keefe: Photography “speaks to how visual we are”

Take a look at this study, which came out last month.

According to Ipsos, when Internet users (read: nearly all of us) share content online, more often than not, they share photos.

In fact, 43% of said users have shared a photo on social media. This is 17% higher than how many users have used social media to share an opinion, status update, or link to an article.

Photography is more ubiquitous than ever, and it has really only become that way within the last decade. Digital cameras, camera-phones, and social media have all fueled the movement.

So, with photos all around us, where does that leave the truly great ones?

That is what I asked Alexa Keefe, a photography producer for National Geographic and this week’s guest on the Telling The Story podcast.

Keefe curates the famous magazine’s daily web series, “Photo of the Day”. She delves through thousands of photos to find the 30 or so that fill up a given month, and she often chooses the most exquisite ones around.

But, you may be surprised to hear, even a photo purist like Keefe can respect the rise and current glut of amateur photos.

“I think it really just speaks to how visual we are, just looking at a picture …” Keefe says. “I think that’s been the amazing thing about digital photography.”

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