Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Why did this simple story about an apology become so much more?

If you haven't read Tom Hallman's story in The Oregonian about a man who tried very hard to apologize to a teacher for something that had happened years earlier, please do. It's a great story. It's emotional and it will resonate with everyone who reads it in a very personal way.

Here are some great thoughts from Maria Carillo, a great narrative story editor who is managing editor of the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, about what makes Hallman's story so good, via Nieman Storyboard.

From Maria: "Tom's story ... has a level of intimacy that we should strive for as journalists. What stops us?"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pleasures of a different kind of writing

I'm writing a story memo.

It might seem odd, but this is actually one of the best parts of my job, mostly because of everything that came before it -- the idea, the reporting, the talking with reporters -- and what will come after it -- the revising and the hard work that will produce a great story.

But I also love it because doing a story memo makes me think harder about a story, and about the people who are working on it, than I do at any other point in the editing process.

I usually do them only for big projects, or when it feels like writing one would help the story get to where it needs to be. Any editors out there do story memos? Any reporters like/hate getting them? Why?

Friday, May 4, 2012

What I learned: Frank Bodani on rolling with the unexpected

Frank Bodani's column about former NFL star Rosey Grier grieving for his deceased wife was part of an entry that won second place in sports columns in the Keystone Awards competition.

The column starts in an unusual place: The opening moments of conversation after Rosey returned Frank's call when Frank was at home. Here is Frank on how that came about:

In writing about Penn State legend Rosey Grier, I was reminded again about not losing candid reporting moments in your story, if possible. Rosey returned my call several days later, and out of the blue. It caught me by surprise, and so I ran with that. I used our reactions to each other, our conversation, to help tell my story and make my point.
And since this was a column, I hoped doing that would also lure readers. Here was a conversation with a man so many people idolized or simply knew for so many exploits. Someone they had forgotten and could remember again.
I wanted people to relate to Rosey now, so I just let the conversation flow. I didn't get in the way.