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looking for some perfect examples to show my journalism students

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by jeff.pearlman, Nov 13, 2010.

  1. jeff.pearlman

    jeff.pearlman Member

    Hope this is an acceptable posting. So I teach journalism at Manhattanville College, and this coming week I want to show my students some fantastic examples of newspaper feature writing. They're beginning writers, and I don't think they're ready for especially complex stuff, where the writer breaks out a bunch of devices and such. Just looking for top-flight, straight-ahead storytelling of the first degree.

    Any suggestions HUGELY appreciated.


    Jeff Pearlman
  2. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Jeff - If you're looking for great straight-ahead newspaper feature writing, go to pulitzer.org and check out some of the feature writing winning entries. Probably not the Weingarten one on the violin player, because that's gimmicky, but most of the rest of them are simply outstanding narrative storytelling written without Gary Smith-style literary flourishes and devices and such.
  3. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Selena Roberts' Heat-Knicks gamer from several years ago. It's on the APSE site, as the first place winner. It's the best gamer I've ever read. It's just perfect.

    Michael Leahy's series in the WP about Jordan during his season with the Wizards would have to be up there.
  4. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

    Death of an American Racehorse and Her Blue Heaven are my two all time favorite pieces of journalism.
  5. Matt1735

    Matt1735 Well-Known Member

    Check out Best of American Sports Writing from any year. SL Price's story on Mike Coolbaugh was fantastic.
  6. PopeDirkBenedict

    PopeDirkBenedict Active Member

    I have always loved this story by Poz:

  7. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Active Member

    A must-have...this makes my Christmas list every year :)
  8. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member


    Do they have to be newspaper features? If so...

    Nightmare is Real For Mourners by Mike Bianchi (Dale Earnhardt's funeral)


    You can talk to them about how sports writers have to write about difficult, sometimes tragic, topics. And it's the job of a writer to convey that emotion to their readers. You can talk about how to balance being sensitive with telling the hard truth.

    Dusting Off Home by Joe Posnanski


    This is a great example of a story that drops a teaser at the beginning, and then uses it as a reveal at the end, but it never feels like a gimmick. I think Poz always does a really good job of showing you scenes were he's obviously there -- he's obviously driving around the DR with Tony Pena in this -- but he never makes the story about him. These are kids who may grow up reading Bill Simmons and believing the reader wants to hear about THEM. Poz is a master at making it about the subject, and that's a good lesson to teach.

    The Cult of Bob Barker by Hank Stuever


    Hank can teach them how to be funny, insightful and how to not take things so seriously if they're writing a feature that deserves it.

    The Umpire's Sons by Lisa Pollack


    Every person has a back story. When Roberto Alomar spit on John Hirshbeck, he said something to the press afterward about Hirschbeck being a jerk ever since his kid got sick. Most writers treated it as a throwaway line that proved Alomar was a jerk. Lisa Pollack decided to get the back story. It's a story about brothers and baseball.

    Drawn Together In Life, Held Together After Death by Eli Saslow


    I think every Journalism professor should make their kids read this one, if only because it might save someone's life by making them think twice about driving after a few drinks. It's also a really powerful piece.

    If they don't have to be newspaper stories,

    The Passion of Tiger Woods by Chris Jones


    Straightforward, but also will get them to understand sometimes writing about a subject, and getting the essence of who he is, doesn't even involve talking to him.

    Holy Ground by Wright Thompson


    Every kid in your class either has a father, or will have had some part of them shaped by the lack of a father figure in their life. Sometimes sports writing really IS about the author. Wright and his story about his Daddy and The Masters is one of those times.

    Pure Heart by William Nack


    It's unlikely they'll care about horse racing. But they will probably have heard of Secretariat. This story again fits your criteria (straight forward, no gimmicks) but few writers understand the meter and rhythm of sentences better than Nack.
  9. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    Thank you for this, DD. I'd never heard this story, never read anything of Lisa's. But I'd be lying if I told you the section about what number Michael wore on his baseball uniform didn't choke me up.
  10. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?
    by Gene Weingarten


    For non-sports stories, this one has stuck with me since I read it. The fear of forgetting a kid in a hot car has always scared me because I know I have that type brain, even though I don't have little kids and have never had one in my car.
  11. Ben.Breiner

    Ben.Breiner Member

    Gary Smith on Jim Valvano

    Kornheiser's Rick Barry profile. Show what the guy could do before PTI.
  12. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    We're offering some great stuff for sure. I may be wrong but I think Jeff wanted stories the type maybe his students could try at their level? Maybe not.

    Anyway, here's the Dave Sheinin story I offered on the last thread we had:


    There's a reason I think Sheinin is the best working sports writer today. That story is part of that reason.
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