I think this happens a lot to reporters. They see someone who looks interesting. They chat with them, and they think, “Hunh, maybe there’s a story here. Or, maybe not.”
It happened to David Weinberg. David’s producing a series on South Los Angeles for KCRW called Below the 10. He was spending time in the neighborhood, getting to know the area and the people and one day, he couldn’t help but notice Luis Gutierrez Sanchez walking down the street.
Okay. So then what? You’ve chatted with an interesting person. How do you know when you have a story?
In David’s case, he has guidelines for Below the 10 based, in part, on the grant that supports the project. So, for him, it’s a matter of deciding whether what he’s learned about Luis fits into those parameters. But, even though those guidelines may be specific to David’s project, they’re actually germane to all reporters — find connections between a person’s life to larger issues and trends.
David says he finds this path to a story very satisfying — discover a person, link them to an issue. When he reported for Marketplace and other programs, the path to a story was frequently the opposite.
On this episode of HowSound, David talks about the documentary he produced on Luis and, in particular, how he used “magical realism” as a storytelling device. The story is called “Grace of the Sea” (and be sure to watch the excellent video that accompanies the piece).
*Thanks to Alexandra Garreton for the photo at the top of this post.