My Thanksgiving thank-you column

I started this blog nine months ago not knowing what to expect.

I was not sure whether anyone would read it; I was not sure I would be able to commit to it; and I was not sure if doing it would ultimately feel as rewarding as I hoped it would be.

Nine months later, I am happy to answer “Yes” to all three questions.

Developing the “Telling The Story” blog has been a great experience so far. And while it has mostly been a solitary experience — I run a relatively autonomous ship over here — it has allowed me to engage with people in a variety of ways across the media landscape.

At this time of taking stock and giving thanks, I would like to give my thanks — both verbally and through links — to the many people who have helped enrich both the blog itself and my personal experience in writing it:

Thanks to my bosses. This blog exists in part because of the blessings of the higher-ups at my full-time job. I am proud to say that I have done some of my best work yet for 11Alive/WXIA-TV this year, and I think I have improved as a storyteller because I constantly examine storytelling in this space.

Thanks to my podcast guests. I am greatly appreciative of the 13 individuals who have taken their time to be interviewed for my Telling The Story podcast. Of those 13, eight of them had never met or spoken with me before, and in many cases I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly they responded and set up an interview.

Case in point: my most recent guests, Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, the filmmakers behind the powerful documentary American Promise. I watched the film on a Saturday night, contacted them Sunday morning, heard back less than an hour, and interviewed them that Tuesday.

Special thanks to two podcast guests in particular. The first is the podcast’s inaugural guest, my co-worker Jon Shirek. I have always known Jon as a terrific storyteller and kind soul, but I learned so much more about them through our interview. It remains a favorite of mine, and I appreciate his encouragement while continuing to be inspired by his work.

The second goes to Roman Mars. The immensely talented and successful producer of 99% Invisible, Mars was my guest on the Telling The Story podcast’s most popular episode to date. He also continues to inspire me, as is evident from the numerous times I have cited his work in my “3 Great Stories” column.

Thanks to the readers. Every now and then, I step back and realize how the simple act of communication can be so amazing. I do not consider this blog to be very popular at all, and yet, in just nine months, it has been read in all 50 states and more than 90 countries. I do not always acknowledge this, but I am pretty humbled by the blog’s reach.

Thanks to the commenters. My blog seems to work differently than others I follow. Folks occasionally comment on my actual blog post, but more often they will e-mail me directly or respond in other forums, like Facebook and Twitter. But I appreciate the comments and always encourage them.

Finally, special thanks to the storytellers. I wrote this in an earlier column, and I will say it again: I was not sure I would find three great stories every work to profile. I was not sure I would find much to say about storytelling in general. But I am so moved by the quantity of great storytelling I have found this year, from books to films to newspapers to TV to podcasts. Thanks to those of you who mostly don’t even know how you have inspired me.

FOR SOME UPLIFTING ADVICE: Telling The Story podcast guests on: changes in journalism
FOR MORE PODCAST WISDOM: Telling The Story podcast guests on: advice for young journalists

Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at

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