steve eckert

3 GREAT STORIES: Best of 2016 (so far), audio/video 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.

We are halfway through 2016, which means the continuation of an annual tradition: the “Best Of (so far)” editions of my 3 Great Stories segment.

I posted my three favorite written stories of the year so far last week. This week, my three favorite audio/video pieces from January through June, along with what I wrote about them back then, with minor edits for clarity:

Government mistakenly declares Minnesota man dead (5/10/16, KARE-TV): This story, from talented KARE-TV investigative reporter A.J. Lagoe, is hard to believe.

But it’s not warm and fuzzy. It’s serious and concerning.

Lagoe looks into the case of a Minnesota man named Steven Monno, one of 12,000 people each year who are wrongly declared dead by the Social Security Administration. Monno and his sister attempt unsuccessfully to beat the bureaucracy, so they enlist Lagoe and the investigative team to help straighten out the situation.

Lagoe indeed straightens it out, but he also unfolds a widespread issue and envelops this personal story in a national context. One can hear a certain amount of disbelief in his voice, as if he spent half the time saying to himself, “Really? This happens?”

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3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Team Ortho, Kyle Korver, & laughter

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.

Running for a cause? (11/12/15, KARE-TV): One of the hardest jobs in reporting for television? Making investigative stories look good.

TV stories are often built around moments, and with many pieces, one finds those moments naturally and visually. Investigative journalists must produce those moments informationally and confrontationally — a much tougher task in a visual medium.

In this piece, KARE 11’s A.J. Lagoe and Steve Eckert show how it’s done.

Uncovering deception and monetary misuse from a local non-profit, the duo layers this story with “Didja see that?” moments. Eckert edits nicely the sequence that shows the misuse of funds over several years, and Lagoe leaves the viewer with a jaw-dropper through his final revelation and confrontation with the man behind the non-profit.

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3 GREAT STORIES: Starring Amazon, Isaiah Austin, & insurance

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 War of the Words (December 2014, Vanity Fair): It lasts six web pages and covers so much, but this story impresses me most because of its restraint.

Writing for Vanity Fair, Keith Gessen discusses the landscape surrounding the current battle between Amazon and book publishers, who feel they are being squashed by a behemoth. He gives a great summary of the current disputes; more importantly, he provides powerful context.

Isn’t it funny how Amazon was initially seen as a force of good for the publishing industry, a counterpoint to the giant chain bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders? Now Amazon is the giant, and in many ways, Gessen writes, its ascendance represents the more cyclical nature of business rather than a sea change. This poignant paragraph sums it up:

The dispute between Amazon and the publishers is a dispute between an e-commerce giant and companies that have for generations been printing text on paper. In some respects it is also a dispute between the East Coast and the West Coast. It is definitely a dispute between hyper-capitalism and cultural conservation. But in the end it is a dispute that comes down to different visions of the future of the written word.

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