Saturday, April 25, 2009

Golden sources in narrative

Pat Abdalla flagged this story from espn.com that recounts the events leading up to the car accident that killed a young California Angels (sorry, I'm not calling them by their legal name) pitcher named Nick Adenhart.

Pat noticed with interest that the reporter used text-messages and Facebook updates as sources.

The story starts with a scene at the hospital after Adenhart has been pronounced dead; then goes back to 12 hours before the crash, and works its way forward as a narrative. The Facebook and text updates quoted certainly help drive the narrative and give the story specifics it might not otherwise have.

We've talked at different times about those "golden sources" for true narratives -- somebody's journal, an official entry log of events, a videotape of an event from which action can be described -- and you can certainly add Facebook updates, Twitter, text-messaging, all that stuff. The key is to verify that the posts actually were made by the person you're writing about. Once you have that confirmation, you have a valuable source for your story.