First-rate journalism allows those without firsthand experience to understand how an event felt, and what it means. The 2paragraphs below are excerpted from Roy Peter Clark’s appreciation of Wade Goodwyn’s reporting on the Oklahoma tornadoes at Poynter.org
I’ve learned from the experts that public radio stories tend to be organized around a combination of direct narration, actualities (what sources or witnesses say), and tracks of natural sound (the warning siren.) I’ve heard the shorthand “acts and tracks.”
But not all “acts” are created equal. Notice how Goodwyn allows William Brown to serve as not just an eyewitness but as the story’s sub-narrator. Brown is a great source, an Iraq War vet who may never have seen this kind of destruction in a war zone. He turns out to be a vivid storyteller himself, using multiple senses for his narration. He sees the horizontal rain, hears the train sounds and the screeching metal, smells the fumes of gasoline.
–Goodwyn’s story here