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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: Best of 2014 (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.

I am on vacation — and out of commission — through this week, so I figured I would use these weeks to post “Best Of” editions of my 3 Great Stories segment.

Last week I posted my three favorite written stories of the year so far. This week, without further ado, my three favorite audio/video pieces from January through May, along with what I wrote about them back then, with minor edits for clarity:

Young cancer patients find comfort in therapy dogs (5/14/14, WTVF-TV Nashville): Here is a tragic example of a headline submarining a great story.

I can only hope viewers of Nashville’s NewsChannel5 were able to watch the piece without the above spoiler. I was fortunate enough to do so, and I was surprised and rewarded when, two minutes into a powerful profile of a young boy with cancer, a dog pops up.

The story, reported by Chris Conte and photographed by Bud Nelson, discusses the effect of therapy dogs on children who get ultra-anxious at hospitals. The dog in this story is adorable enough, but so is the child being helped. Bryce Greenwell, all of five years old, is charming in numerous ways, including his penchant for the phrase, “Like a boss!”

From start to finish, Conte and Nelson keep you hooked. (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…)