The Oregonian’s Anna Griffin wrote a story last Sunday about a small but rare and memorable moment in high school sports. Deadspin set it up this way: A young man named Davan Overton in unincorporated Oregon plays on his high school basketball team despite a tumor on his spine that has, since he was a toddler, hampered [...]
Tag Archives: The Oregonian
This is the inaugural installment of Work the Problem, a storytelling advice column featuring everyday craft quandaries and a roving band of narrative sages. Today’s players: >Dave Tarrant, reporter, Dallas Morning News >Jack Hart, former Oregonian editor and author of Storycraft Tarrant is on the enterprise and projects team, where he started in 1984 as a [...]
Welcome to Storyboard’s first annual year-end roundup of top storytelling: 34 of our favorite pieces in audio, magazines, newspapers and online, with three of the categories guest curated by Mark Armstrong (online), Julia Barton and Julie Shapiro (audio), and Ben Montgomery, Michael Kruse and Thomas Lake (newspapers). This was a strong year for storytelling, and it was hard to choose. You’ll find pieces that [...]
Years ago, the wonderful Walt Harrington came to our newsroom and fired us up. We were at the start of a storytelling revival, trying to find our way back to craft, and Walt’s book “Intimate Journalism” had just been published. In the book, Walt quotes Will Durant, a famous historian and philosopher: “Civilization is a stream with [...]
A soup-to-nuts look at narrative nonfiction, Jack Hart’s “Storycraft” breaks down different approaches to telling true stories and the components that make or break them. In writing the book, Hart brought to bear a doctorate, years of teaching in college classrooms, and a quarter-century of experience at The Oregonian, where he edited several stories selected as [...]
The following comments are taken from a talk given by Oregonian reporter Tom Hallman on September 25, 2009, at the American Association of Sunday and Feature editors. Hallman won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for “The Boy Behind the Mask.”
For reporters, there has to be a change of attitude. Narrative was seen as being all about writing and having plenty of time to do stuff. Narrative reporters were seen as prima donnas. So for younger writers, they’re going to have to tell stories, to find stories that are going to be shorter…
The truth is that we turned out stories that were not worth 40, 60 or 90 inches, where the openings were about impressing other writers more than reaching the readers. But you cannot tell a scenic story in 15 inches. It’s going to require a different kind of narrative: The presence of a writer’s voice but without the heavy first person references. My feeling is unless you’ve witnessed a murder, you don’t need to be in the story. It will take a more disciplined approach to the story, the realization that some things are going to have to go by the wayside. You’re going to have to use quotes, whether you want to or not, to condense the story.
At last weekend’s American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors conference, keynote speaker Shawn Levy spoke about “getting the story” and the connections between writing books and journalism. The film critic at The Oregonian, Levy has written five books, including King of Comedy, about comedian Jerry Lewis, and his most recent biography—Paul Newman: A Life. In addition to his work at The Oregonian, he blogs about film and professional soccer, and tweets compusively, suffering from what he calls “monkey brain.”
Levy suggested reporters should “look high, look low, and look sideways” when researching, and he praised the investigative reporters who taught him how to dig for a story. He talked about the “high”—academic institutions and libraries that offer arcane documents and details. He connected the “low” with tabloid accounts and stories on a subject, and the concept of looking “sideways” with looking for what else was happening in the life and community of a subject at any given point in his life.
Read more from his talk.
Bingham told us he got the idea for this story after reading something a shark-bite victim said—”a throw-away line in the story written around the news event.” He went deeper into the story—and wrote a narrative that portrays someone not easily deterred.
Bingham followed up on the rescue of a paraglider from a tree by profiling the man who climbed and rescued him. He focuses not on the rescue itself but on the character of Bob Saari, tree climber—his toughness, his apparent fearlessness, his stubornness. It’s a neat window into one man and his unusual job.
This narrative sprung from a news story about the capture of a kidnapper. Bingham seized on a detail about the boy who gave police key information—that he was prone to fibs and exaggeration—and used that insight to write a focused and well-themed little story about the boy’s role in finding another boy’s kidnapper. The theme [...]