Leaving "Somewhere to Go"

Just in time for the holiday, here is something a smart friend of mine taught me with a casual remark he made over a cup of coffee at Big Momma's.

Brian Shipman, who once worked in news when he was an award-winning reporter for KY3 here in Springfield, was telling me about a student who was covering a star basketball player for a feature assignment.  Brian now runs DUTV at Drury University.  The story began with the kid playing basketball, which "leaves you no where to go."  That small phrase really registered.

How many times have my students started with the obvious, leaving them "no where to go" with the rest of the story?

Here is an example of a story two kids are working on for our show right now.  It is about a 23-year-old who up and went backpacking his way from Springfield to Hawaii to Tahiti to Australia to New Zealand.  Kind of an amazing journey, living in the moment from place to place before settling with the Kiwis down under for a year, where he works now as a photographer.

That story includes photos and videos of his travels, some really great stuff.  BUT...starting with the scenery, or the journey itself, takes away any chance to make that part of the story special or more impactful.  So the story will actually begin in a garage here on the north side of Springfield. Why?

Because to raise money to afford this big adventure, the young man and his father bought a used sports car, spent months fixing it up then selling it to a man overseas.  That is where the journey actually begins, and starting in that garage leaves the reporter and photographer "somewhere to go" as they unfurl the rest of the story.

I plan to remind other teams of students about this concept.  It is so simple, and so helpful.  Leave yourself "somewhere to go" in a feature by not starting with the obvious.

That's one cup of coffee I will remember.   Happy Thanksgiving.