I’d like to tell you a little story about trying to find stories for your J School beat.
Coming to Brooklyn, from Mexico City, one of the coolest topics I thought I could cover had to do with the Mexican population. Since I was in L.A. for so long, the idea of gangs and Mexican-American gang warfare was about as sexy a topic as I could muster as a young reporter. Of course, I wasn’t thinking about how utterly difficult it is to penetrate gangs (pause) and to get info that’s publishable.
While looking into gang activity in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, where I lay my reporting claim to fame (I have yet to publish an SP-specific story!) I came upon a guy who runs a gang Website. Above, is an audio slide show I made. Three months after I made contact with dude, he sends me a text, inviting me to this event. An event that was basically a reunion party for potbelly, old school gangsters from NYC. Many of them walked with canes and others looked like grandpop’s who just didn’t want to give up the tough guy persona. Really reminded me of my late grandfather who walked around Newark, NJ dressed like a full-fledged cowboy. No chaps, but a cowboy hat, boots and a leather vest. He never shook that image, even when he had cancer.
So, I presents this video in class and it bombed! This is not how we Duy, said the instructor. Where’s your story? What’s the nut graph?
All my explanations were met with the Cheshire Cat eyes.
Cool topic, but no story. What is story? Everyone has their own explanation. It’s like rocket science. I’ll let you know when I find out, until then, look up Story + journalism + “how to tell” in google. Stick to the .edu sites.
One major component of my critique had to do with the fact that I wasn’t reporting anything new. Wait, what? I never heard of any biker gang reunion in BK. I googled the hell out of it. But my source did mention a guy named Bilal.
Was it Bilal from Pakistan who I worked with on my Business of Journalism presentation? Nah, prolly not.
Who is this mysterious Bilal?
Oh, THIS BILAL. The guy, like me, was scouring the web for cool stories about Sunset Park and found one. Here’s his video:
Is his video better than mine? A little bit. The lower-third info is good. He focuses on characters more. I learned a lot watching this guys video, after the fact.
I’m taking my original vid up top back to the drawing board. The suggestion: Focus on this as a STORY about how over the hill gangsters are using the online world and social media to reconnect, as opposed to sending out hits on each other.
Hmm. Something to think about. Stay tuned…..