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Best of the best: APSE features

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Alma, Apr 3, 2014.


Which writer(s) wrote the best feature?

  1. Eric Adelson

    1 vote(s)
  2. Tyler Barnes and Jere Longman

    0 vote(s)
  3. Dirk Chatelain

    1 vote(s)
  4. Paul Daugherty

    0 vote(s)
  5. Don DeFrancesco

    0 vote(s)
  6. Tom Green

    0 vote(s)
  7. Dave Fairbank

    2 vote(s)
  8. Perryn Keys

    1 vote(s)
  9. Jeff Passan

    1 vote(s)
  10. Matthew Peaslee

    2 vote(s)
  11. Jim Seimas

    1 vote(s)
  12. Matthew Stanmyre

    3 vote(s)
  13. Clay Whittington

    1 vote(s)
  1. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    OK, so I waited until most of the APSE awards and links were released to put up this poll.

    I thought it'd be interesting not only to vote on the best features as deemed by APSE (that is, not only the winners in each category, any feature that got a 1st-place vote) but perhaps discuss what's good about a piece. I understand there's quite a few here. That's kinda the point. There's a lot of good work.

    So here are all the features that got first place votes across all circulation categories. I haven't put their circulations if only because it kinda doesn't matter. Save the piece on Puig, I haven't read any of these, but by next week I will have read all of them and I'll offer up my meager thoughts. I hope some of the terrific writers and editors on this site do the same.

    In alphabetical order:

    Eric Adelson, Yahoo, Prison Rodeo

    Tyler Barnes and Jere Longman, A Yellow Card, Then Unfathomable Violence, in Brazil

    Dirk Chatelain, Omaha World-Herald, The disappearance of small-town football

    Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati Enquirer, Ex-Bengal fighting to save his leg

    Dan DeFrancesco, The Journal-News, Volleyball eases transgender player's transitions

    Tom Green, Auburn-Opelika News, Peace of Mind

    Dave Fairbank, Newport News Daily Press, William and Mary's Tutweiler survives miracle ordeal and recovery

    Perryn Keys, Baton Rouge Advocate, The zen of Steve Gleason

    Jeff Passan, Yahoo, Coast Guard reflects on time with Yasiel Puig

    Matthew Peaslee, Tribune Chronicle, Battling Back

    Jim Seimas, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Ex-pro Ken Sears spending time with basketball-loving patient John Burton at a Watsonville hospital

    Matthew Stanmyre, Star-Ledger, A Holiday Lesson

    Clay Whittington, Kileen Daily Herald, Johnny "Lam" Jones, defined, altered one magical lap
  2. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    I see votes. Cool. At least a few words about why those are the best. Since it's the craft that matters.
  3. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Boy, Alma, this is going to take some work.. :).

    But...I've read the first story on the list, by Eric Adelson, and here are my thoughts:

    I like it -- a good, different subject/topic and some good writing.

    I would, however, have worked the stuff about the prison cemetery and the hospice program and stuff that was at the end up into the middle of the story, a little higher, just to add more meat/substance to it.

    And I would have ended it with the quote from Gay about how he'd like to now compete in real, outside-world rodeos, and I would have made the line about how he probably won't get the chance to do that because he's in for life be the tag.

    The story felt like it was over after that for me. Even though I liked the stuff about the cemetery plot(s) and the hospice, the ending was the rodeo/in for life part.

    I'll continue down the list and give some thoughts as I have them. I won't vote until I've read them all. (I have to wonder if the people who have voted, honestly, have read all the stories yet, or if they just voted for the one they read because, of course, it's good. They all are).

    I only say this because I can see how much time it's taking me to read them all and make/give any real thoughts or analysis on them...
  4. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Didn't care for the Yellow Card/Unfathomable Violence story in the NYT by Tyler Barnes and Jere Longman.

    It didn't analyze or explain enough about what happened to the two murder victims. Yes, such violence, and such all-consuming need of revenge on such a wide, apparently country-wide scale, is unfathomable. The story did little to try to help make it more fathomable, and that was the problem.

    The story was researched well -- a real tip of the cap, it seems, should go to the researcher who got the tagline, Susan C. Beachy, who maybe even should have had a shared byline if all the facts/research I read into that article were her doing -- but the analysis and story-telling aspects didn't match up with the level of the research involved or the graphic-ness of the events being recounted.

    And the ending was really bad. It felt like the story was just cut where it ended on a page by an exacto knife-wielding person in an old-times newspaper back-shop, or as if the reporters just literally ran out of words, or something. It just...petered out.

    This is also just a little thing, but as long as it was mentioned: How about an explanation of why were there baby chicks running around with pink- and purple-dyed heads? To demark hens- and roosters-to-be? That was my guess, but the question should've been answered.
  5. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I didn't think I would, but I liked Dirk Chatelain's project on the disappearance of small-town football in Nebraska a lot.

    The story -- with more multi-media and interactive elements to it than the first two -- actually included some good story-telling. It was an easy read, like something you could read to kids at bed-time and you'd all enjoy it.

    It put the reader there -- in a place I've never been before -- and made me feel like I was on the bus, at the school, in the fields and in the middle of this challenging time right along with the boys, coaches and parents involved with the featured team.

    It also did a good job of explaining, simply, in a way that kept the story from getting bogged down, the whys of the trends that were illustrated in the web-based, interactive elements of the project.

    It was interesting to follow, with the clicks of a slider, the years-long trend toward school sports co-ops and closings but most relevant to be able to see how the most precipitous drops in football programs has occurred recently, since about 2007. And the photos were excellent -- real, living-color, wide-angle things that gave a good sense of the scope of the problem, the place and the story all at the same time.

    The whole thing had a historical, nostalgic, genealogical sense to it, but was so well-done that it still felt modern and you knew this was a present-day story.

    Oh, and it was a great introduction of this reader to six-man football. I'd never heard of it before.

    Nice job all around by the Omaha World-Herald.
  6. boundforboston

    boundforboston Well-Known Member

    During APSE judging, you're only looking at the story, no multimedia elements.
  7. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Paul Daugherty's feature on former Bengals player Reggie Williams struck me as a good profile, but not much more.

    Williams' efforts to save his leg seem fruitless if there is only to be maintenance, and not improvement, as doctors seem to think. In my opinion, even if not his own, Williams would not be a failure if he lost his leg. It's sad to think that he feels that way, and that sadness is the abiding result of reading all his circular thoughts/quotes about his situation.

    He speaks of justice but won't come out and say that, by that, he means financial recompense.

    Given that Williams' plight seems to be an example of a possible larger story -- about older NFL players and their injury/insurance problems as compared to present-day players -- I'd have liked to have more explanation of and comparison to that.
  8. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Dan DeFrancesco's story on transgender male volleyball player Taylor Edelmann was good, but it could have been better.

    I'd have liked to have read more from family members, teammates, or friends or on-campus students who may have had qualms about his journey, or who don't know him, and hear from them. I'd have liked to know how locker-room/dressing-out situations and restroom use are handled, and how Edelmann, himself, handles those times.

    I'd have liked to have known a little more about Purchase College's and the Skyline Conference's new policy regarding the transgender transitions of athletes to the appropriate teams. And does the NCAA have something similar for all universities and colleges. This was a story that needed to be broadened a little bit in terms of its view.

    And, has Edelmann's transition really been as easy as it sounded? Maybe it has been, but even so, what were the most difficult parts? Even though he identifies as a male, how did it feel and was he conscious of how he looked or might have been perceived during the transition, when he essentially was a woman with facial hair, or even now, as a man with breasts?

    He's a psychology major. It'd have been interesting to seen/heard him delve into this more, considering the massive change-of-life it has/will cause. I wonder if he's undergone any counseling, for that matter, and if so (as I'd think might be required before/during testosterone treatments), what kind of perspective has that lent him, or others in his life.

    Has he met any other young people who have or are going through what he is? What's his relationship with the rest of the transgender community right now, if he has one?

    This was a story that seemed to get considered for an award, and would have been, based strictly on the unusual subject matter and regardless of the quality of the reporting/writing. It's a good story to have out there, but more could have been done with it.
  9. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Strong story on high school football player Dustin Hudmon's decision to quit the game after suffering his third concussion.

    It's an easy read and a compelling topic, broached by a compelling young man because, well, what a mature, seriously thoughtful thing to do, especially for a 17-year-old who was the starting quarterback for his team.

    The only thing I might liked to have seen was an attempt to see if this is a discussion that many/any other high school players in the area (or outside of it) who have suffered such injuries have ever had.

    It also would have been good to have a trainer's or doctor's voice/opinion/perspective involved with the story, and a little bit more of an explanation given of the degrees of severity of concussions.
  10. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    The story of Josh Tutweiler's survival of a fall and a broken neck, in itself, is truly amazing. People with C-1 injuries usually die, or become quadriplegics from the neck down, or at the least, from the shoulders down.

    Tutweiler's C-1 vertebrae was just cracked, which was certainly fortunate for him. As for the reporting and writing of his story, it flowed easily and gave a sense of prevailing spirituality without hitting people over the head with it. Tutweiler seems to be someone comfortable in his own skin, and his story reads that way.

    I would have liked to have seen something from an EMT person who was there upon Tutweiler's return to where his car was, and where he met an ambulance that took him to the hospital, and a little something, statistically speaking, on neck injuries and survival rates on them...something that would have illustrated how much Tutweiler really beat the odds, not only by surviving but still walking and living a normal life.

    Otherwise, it was a good read.
  11. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Perryn Keys wrote a terrific story on former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason and his fight against ALS.

    It's understated but, somehow, still firm, even powerful.

    Personally, I would have liked to know more of the struggles of Gleason's family in dealing with the disease, but that seems like quibbling because the story really was good.

    Great, great profile.
  12. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Jeff Passan's account of the Coast Guard crew's account of their experience with Yasiel Puig is a great read and, as the writer reflects in the story, it's good for filling in some history on a player who really did seem to just...appear.

    I'd have liked to know how Jaime Torres got U.S. residency for Puig, though, given that it's a process that should've taken months, and apparently didn't.

    I'd also rather have seen this story written if/when/after the Coast Guard crew members ever actually do attend a Dodgers game in order to go to see the Cuban defector again. It'd be interesting to see if Puig would, indeed, remember and recognize them, and to have something written out of that.
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