“Did you see that show the other night? The one where the guy was carrying a bunch of boxes and he kept getting tripped up by different things. He finally fell and everything went flying! That was so funny.”
How many times have you re-told a story that no one found interesting or funny? Sometimes things are only of interest if you were there. Many newsworthy stories are often served up in a “cookie cutter” or “plug and play” manner.
Just because it may seem like a run-of-the-mill story, doesn’t mean that reporters have to treat it as such. I’ve learned to dig for a different angle of a story. The reporter isn’t necessarily changing the story, simply finding a unique viewpoint to share.
As storytellers, it’s our job to find a way to bring the audience to the story. These are the stories that people often remember.
Today I worked with David Schechter on how the recent rainfall is affecting travelers at DFW International Airport. We were doing a story on a woman whose husband was stranded in California after what was supposed to be an overnight business trip. He didn’t pack a suitcase, extra clothes, or anything for that matter.
It seemed that it would be a fairly dry story (no pun intended), but David’s attention to detail that day allowed him to angle the story around something memorable. I learned a great deal about making a story something people will remember and keeping attention.
He focused the story on the fact that the man’s suitcase was still at home and that only one empty coat hanger was in the closet, that of the shirt he was wearing. He only brought clothes for one night, but since the delay in getting home, he had to buy new clothes.
Before leaving the station, we interviewed the man by phone while he waited to catch a plane in California. David found an interesting way to tie-in the coat hanger again at the end of the package.
We also interviewed a woman at the airport about her vacation being canceled because of the weather. It was difficult finding people who matched our criteria, but David’s refusal to give up eventually landed him another great soundbyte. The woman told us how she had planned a trip to Disney World for three years and it was canceled because of the weather delays.
We then worked on writing and editing the story, a stressful task due to the turnaround deadline. David later fronted the package live from the airport and we called it a day.
I also got to spend a little time with the engineer Mr. Pilotti, learning about differences in microwave and satellite transmission, and how each works. He seemed to have a wealth of knowledge on how technology plays a crucial role in today’s news industry.