There are a lot of stories out there – those that won Pulitzers and such – that have an impact on a journalist, professionally and personally. I’ve come across two in my journalism career that I always come back to year after year: for tips and a reminder that beautiful feature writing coupled with modern-day news exists.
I read both during my years in graduate school and recall emailing myself copies or links of the stories for perusing.
One, by writer-now-professor Jacqui Banaszynski, is about AIDS and how it affects a gay couple in the middle of America’s Heartland – a place that feared and knew little about the disease. I remember reading excerpts of it in graduate class and a lot of fellow classmates tearing up while talking about the story. It makes me re-evaluate my story telling skills and remind me I can always write better and do better than the last story.
Here’s an excerpt from the story: “Death is no stranger to the heartland. It is as natural as the seasons, as inevitable as farm machinery breaking down and farmers’ bodies giving out after too many years of too much work.
But when death comes in the guise of AIDS, it is a disturbingly unfamiliar visitor, one better known in the gay districts and drug houses of the big cities, one that shows no respect for the usual order of life in the country.
The visitor has come to rural Glenwood, Minn.”
The second one deals with a subject matter that fills my bookshelves at home. I don’t know if it’s the memories of leaving my home for a brief period during the Second Gulf War in Saudi Arabia, but war has always fascinated me. That interplay between violence, human loss and suffering and someone trying to figure out how to write words (and take photos) that can echo comparable empathy in someone else miles and miles away. It’s even better when war is coupled with investigative reporting, which two very talented reporters at The Washington Post, Anne Hull and Dana Priest, did. Both won Pulitzers for their coverage of the ailing top Army Medical Facility, Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Below is the link:
Happy reading and reflecting.