Points of Entry
Nieman on Narrative
First and Long
A white public school and a black private school in Milwaukee join together to field a football team. Greg Borowski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel follows them through their first season together. This could have been turned into an four-part series that strains to keep the reader's interest. Instead, it appears in one really long take, from practice in the August heat, through the struggles to win a single game, to the November finale.
The Trials of a Citizen Soldier
Last fall, when anthrax was discovered in the mail, Leroy Richmond, a postal worker at the Brentwood mail center in Washington, D.C., kept going to work, heeding the call of officials who told the workers they were the quiet soldiers in this war against terrorism. But then Richmond, with anthrax crawling through his blood, nearly died. Two of his friends did. While other survivors point fingers and can't contain their bitterness, Richmond is slow to criticize the postal service for not closing the plant earlier. He was just doing his duty. Still, the illness lingers, he tires quickly, his memory is less secure, and he will probably never return to work. Gary Dorsey of The Baltimore Sun tells of Richmond's illness and his recovery in this two-part package.
Out of Nowhere: Inside the Pentagon on 9/11
Victims of the terrorist attack at the Pentagon haven't gotten the same attention as those at Ground Zero. In this four-part series, Earl Swift of the Virginian-Pilot constructs a thorough tick-tock look at that fateful morning at the Pentagon. He manages to successfully weave together various stories, though at times it can be hard to keep all the characters straight. Ultimately, the reader sees an interesting cross-section of civilian and military heroes, of those who got out physically unscathed and those still struggling to recover.
The Story of Edith
Bill Reiter of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette spent months researching the story of Edith Ware, who was 14 when the last lynch mob in Little Rock stormed her neighborhood in 1927. In the eight-part series, he writes short takes (600 or so words) that document Edith's life, her determination, and the changes in Little Rock over the last century. This sidebar explains a little about how Reiter found the story and the lengths he went to verify whatever he could of a decades-old tale. Click on the PDFs to see the paintings by John Deering that illustrate the story. (Scroll to the bottom of the web page to get the first installment).
The Truth About Bob
Bob Ferguson was briefly famous in the 1970s when the Iowa man wrote a letter asking the governor for a life sentence because prison was his only home. Three decades later, Ken Fuson of the Des Moines Register writes about the two families that try to help this now homeless con-man. The web version includes a wealth of other information: letters Bob sent, audio of Bob answering questions, and an interesting essay by Fuson about how he came to write the story. (It all started as a feel-good Christmas-week feature.)
A Father's Pain, a Judge's Duty, and a Justice Beyond Their Reach
It's the story of a father who made a tragic mistake and the judge who had to uphold his sense of the law. After Paul Wayment left his 3-year-old boy sleeping in the truck while he tracked deer in the Utah mountains, nothing was ever the same. Barry Siegel of the Los Angeles Times won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for this piece. He artfully pulls the reader through this 7,600-word tale, giving us a peek inside the minds of the troubled father and the grieving judge.
Measure by Measure
Mary Miller of The News & Observer follows a high school band from the sweaty, sunburnt days of band camp to the biggest performance of their young lives that winter. In addition to the band director, Miller focuses the six-part series on a few band members, letting us follow their challenges for first chair and their butterflies before the big concert. The stories ran in "real-time" throughout the fall of 2001, one every couple of weeks.