Sad stories

Oklahoma State University primary logo
Oklahoma State University primary logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my last blog, I spoke of the grip written words seem to have on me. Upon reading this story about the “Oklahoma State Ten,” I now realize this is more true than ever before.

What makes this story excellent is the fact that it was executed in such a compelling manner. The subject matter of a plane crash and student athletes is already tragic and gripping. In order to make sure the story was truly absorbed by the reader, Tom Friend, the author, used a variety of techniques to build up an incredibly emotional story.

By choosing one person to focus on, such as Nate Fleming, the subject became more real. In telling us about Nate, a short yet enthusiastic basketball player, the audience could truly attach to this event. Headlines such as “Ten Die in Plane Crash” are horrific, yes. However, I feel as if those type of stories are frequently used in mainstream news media today. As an audience, we can become desensitized to these types of events. Not true in this piece. Friend made sure that this story would stay with the reader.

Part of the amazing nature of this story was the layout. Sure, interviews were recorded and anecdotes recounted. However, Friend decided to include personal letters from father to son.These letters, written from Nate’s childhood to after his passing, were displayed throughout the piece.

Their inclusion truly had a magical effect on the piece. One could be transported to a specific moment in time, not through the filter of a writer, but through the loving eyes of a parent. Nate was a person just like any other- he was loved and made his parents proud. My heart was breaking when I read letters Nate’s father wrote to him after his death. I could vividly see his emotions and was truly moved by the honesty of the words.

Sad stories are difficult to write- or at least it seems that way. Why? Because there is a fine line between ‘poignant’ and ‘gaudy.’ I detest when tragedies are sensationalized. While some may say that is the job of journalists, I disagree. It is my hope that that is a mere stereotype. Honesty is key to connecting with readers, as seen in this piece.

End reactions- this artice makes me feel two things. First, it makes me feel like I’m so incredibly lucky to have chosen the area of study I did. Secondly, it makes me excited to write. Who knows, maybe someday my words can bring light to a truth or affect the emotions of others. After all, isn’t that what journalism is about?


2 thoughts on “Sad stories

  1. Bob Asmus August 29, 2012 / 9:20 AM

    I very much enjoy your insight and opinion re this topic, Amanda…….keep going for your passion of writing….you are excellent at it!
    Grandpa and Wade

  2. Carol Zuegner September 9, 2012 / 11:08 PM

    It is what journalism is about. Not every story or every article, but you can do this.

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