One Story From Joplin

Bethany & Don

When tragedy strikes on so massive a scale as Japan’s, or Tuscaloosa’s, or Joplin’s it actually becomes more difficult to process. At least, it does for me.

There is a reason NBC’s Nightly News dominates its competitors’ offerings, and I doubt that changing Katie Couric for Scott Pelley will help CBS all that much.

Brian Williams is starting out with a huge lead, for starters, but his biggest advantage is, he knows how to tell highly personal stories.


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A few points worth noticing:

  • Brian lets her be the focus of her own story. He doesn’t interrupt. He doesn’t impose.
  • He doesn’t try to add emotion to such a highly emotional story. Often, in local newscasts, the reporter alters his/her voice, understanding the power of the story and wanting to use their own intonation to convey empathy, but it usually comes across as over-acting.
  • She still speaks of her husband in the present tense, so fresh is her loss.

By personalizing the loss of one person, Brian helps me understand that there are literally over a hundred other stories just as raw, just as emotional as this one.

And that’s a lesson worth learning when you want to move people to empathy, to action.

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