Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dying man and his heart surgeon: A look inside the story

This piece was nicely done by Bill Landauer and offers a couple things we can take from it:

  1. This almost wasn't a story. We'd written about Joe Palmieri and the heart surgeon before, and were reluctant at first to go back into the story. The fact that the doc's book was coming out was a bit newsy, but we certainly could've briefed it. But Joe kept calling Bill, and finally Bill said, "Why do you keep calling me?" or words to that effect. Joe's answer was a poignant one, that he felt like he was dying and was running out of time to feel like he had thanked the surgeon. That became the forward motion of the story.
  2. The language and tone in it are an exercise in restraint. It would have been very easy for this story to be a maudlin tale of woe that would've felt forced or over the top. But Bill worked to pull back from that edge, and I think he succeeded. The story has the right feel to me -- emotional, but not blubbering.