Compassionate Release

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In some respects,  Natasha Haverty seems an unlikely candidate to win an investigative journalism award. And, not just one — two!  She’s unlikely because she’d never produced an investigative piece before.

Natasha is a reporter at North Country Public Radio. When she first started there, she produced stories on dairy princess pageants and ribbon cutting ceremonies. She was a “cub reporter” and North Country assigned less substantive work to her. But, when an opportunity to work on the “Prison Time Media Project” came along at the station, North Country took a chance and brought her on board.

Natasha says she learned an incredible amount diving into the deep end like that. “One big thing I learned really early on,” she told me, “is just to be so skeptical, so skeptical of everything. And not romanticize anybody on any side.”

Writing to the tape was something else she came to understand — keep it simple and just connect the best quotes with narration. She said her best quotes from interviews easily fell together in a classic narrative. “Here’s somebody who wants something. Here’s what the obstacles are to get it. Here’s why these obstacles are there. Here’s the guy on the other side who’s having to make pretty tough decisions all the time.”

Then, she says, with the quotes in that order, start writing. “Just do what you can to kinda… swing from one branch to the other. You don’t need a lot of bells and whistles for a story like this, I felt. Just get us to the next voice.”

A final takeaway for Natasha was to get out of the way of the story. Recognize where the essential story is, not necessarily the one you pitched to your editor. And that’s what Natasha talks about on this edition of HowSound.

Listen up!  — Rob

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