Get The People Part (Don Ward)

By: Don Ward
By: Don Ward

A terrible situation in Haiti. The best way to tell the story here is to find the people most impacted here.


We've got our own people who are good at getting them.

Whenever there's a big story there's what we call "official sound"  It can be an interview with a cop working a crime scene, a firefighter at a burning house or a city council member at a meeting about budget cuts.  They're important for what we call the nuts and bolts of a story. At 11 News we like to go a lot deeper than that.

In the above situations it's much more interesting to hear from the store clerk who was robbed at that crime scene, the homeowner who just got out of the burning house, or the bus passengers who will lose jobs when budget cuts take away their way to work.  We call those the "real people."  It's not that the police and fire and city council folks aren't real, but they're in their usual realm in all of the examples.  The real people are more like you and me, people who don't expect to find themselves in newsworthy situations.

For any story to have a soul it has to have the real people.  In the above scenarios, they're all right there, pretty easy to find. 

Today we've got great local stories on the Haiti earthquake.  One is about a graduate student who was on one of the final planes out of Haiti before the earthquake hit. Now she wants to take a semester off and go back to Haiti to help. The other is a local family in the process of adopting a young girl from Haiti.  They've been over several times to meet her and they were in the terrible position of wondering if she is OK.  It turns out the little girl is just fine.  Those stories will be memorable because they involve real people.

In both cases they contacted us here at 11 News.  We love that.  We get to tell great stories about people really affected by the situation.

It's not always that simple.  Quite often we have just a piece or two of information about the real people in a story. That's when the newsroom goes into action. We often have reporters, anchors, managers and producers all working the phones, everyone calling different sources, trying different avenues to get to the real people.  The Internet is very helpful too.  There are lots of way to get the information, some of them are often complicated.  It's sometimes amazing to watch the needed info come together a piece at a time.  A possible date of birth here, a former address there, maybe a possible relative in another state. 

We've all got our own methods to find the information we need, but a couple of 11 Newsers really stand out.  My co-anchor Shannon Brinias is relentless.  She puts her 20 years of experience as a reporter into the task every time. Reporter Lauri Martin is another pro at working the system to get what she needs.  Between those two and the rest of us doing what we can we usually find the folks we want to reach. They don't always want to talk to us, but they often do..and it makes the story.

So whenever you or someone you know is involved in something that could be a news story please get in touch.  578-000  Even if you're not sure it's newsworthy, let us know about never know.  We never know either until we've had a chance to look it over, and talk to the real people. 

We'll talk again soon.


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