stephen colbert

3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Dee Barnes, Dr. Dre, & Stephen Colbert

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.

Here’s what’s missing from Straight Outta Compton (8/18/15, Gawker): The past week brought a fascinating example of a shifting narrative.

The movie Straight Outta Compton had arrived with much fanfare and positive reviews, as well as a new album from hip-hop legend Dr. Dre. But many began pointing out what the movie had left out: Dr. Dre’s history of violence against women.

The most notorious victim? Dee Barnes, who hosted a hip-hop show called Pump It Up. Barnes has rarely been heard from since her run-in with Dr. Dre, but she amplified her voice in a serious way this week with an opinion piece for Gawker about her experience. She came forward with a honest look at what she went through and continues to face.

In doing so, Barnes provided some much-desired context to a movie based in history.


3 GREAT STORIES: Starring #Skywire, Stephen Colbert, & raw emotion

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.

I have a mentor who scoffs at the idea that certain stories are considered “emotional” while others are not.

“Every story is about emotion,” she says.

One of the toughest parts of my job on a daily basis is capturing raw emotions in a story. People behave differently when they know their actions are being recorded, especially but not necessarily by a camera (people modify their behavior in front of a writer with a pen and paper, as well).

This week, I use this space to celebrate three great stories from last week that gave people glimpses into raw emotion — three very different types of emotions.

Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda (6/23/13, Discovery Channel): A big part of me simply does not get the ultimate point of events like Skywire Live, other than as a chance to say to everyone, “Look at what we can do.”

(Thank you for indulging the Sports Night reference … my favorite unsung TV show of the 90’s.)

That said, when Nik Wallenda did his Skywire walk across the Grand Canyon, he instantly mesmerized more than a million people who tuned in to watch, be it on the air or online.

Part of the draw is, of course, the suspense of whether or not Wallenda would make it across. But that is only a fraction of the equation; after all, I think most people assumed deep down he would make it, or why would the Grand Canyon and the Discovery Channel put so much money and muscle behind it?

More than that, I think people wanted to see a seemingly ordinary person do an extraordinary feat.

During the event, my Twitter feed featured all sorts of comments about the event. Some folks marveled about Wallenda’s wardrobe, mainly that he wore blue jeans to conquer the Canyon. Others commented on the number of times Wallenda thanked Jesus during the proceedings. Still others loved the interplay between Wallenda and his dad.

Wallenda bared himself to the world, and in doing so — and by doing a remarkable stunt — he became an instant celebrity.