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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

PD gets a good story on page 1

Since I'm often disappointed by what I find in The Plain Dealer, I thought I would take a second to report that I was pleasantly surprised by one of today's front-page stories. (I won't even begin to tell you how much time I wasted on searching for the story. I had to Google Brian's name to find the link.)

I first wrote about Brian Mauk and his work with the homeless for the Catholic Universe Bulletin. What struck me was that Brian's name kept coming up in so many others stories I worked on—about missions, corporal acts of mercy and social justice. So I'm delighted to see that his work will continue and with funding from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute of Delaware. Congratulations and good luck, Brian. Let us know how we can help.

The front page of the business section also had a unique feature by Frank Bentayou on Elmer Fridrich, the guy who invented the halogen bulb. This I consider an "almost" story because it skirted around being a great story, but didn't quite dance. It lacked so many details that would have made it more a rich narrative and less a news story.

What do I mean by this? There's no tension in the story. Let's get to know Mr. Fridrich. Describe him (I know there's a photo, but I want to know about his hands or the sharpness of mind), give me a scene (describe his surroundings--number of screwdrivers, lamps hanging from the ceiling, stuff that would give a housing inspector heartburn) and for the love of storytelling, build a scene based on how he came up with his ideas. What does he sound like? How does he talk about his work? Where does he get his inspiration? Let's hear a little less about how the bulb works and little more about the man behind its creation.

Who says narrative doesn't belong on the business pages? Some of the greatest stories told are about inventors and their inventions. If you're going to donate that many column inches, then let's have a good yarn.


P. Alexandria said...

Yarn? Well... we never had much of that around the house, but nuts, bolts, screws, tools, scrap metal, rare metals, old motors, machines of all shapes and sizes, wire, springs, widgets, gadgets, pieces, parts and all manner of miscellaneous whatnot. And if we don't have it, Pop will be more than happy to make it for you special. I know, I've spent many years living right in the middle of it all...
The inventor's daughter...

Wendy A. Hoke said...

See there—that's exactly the kind of color story I'm talking about. I'd love to hear more!