Hoot! Good Storytelling On An Awful Story.

In this recent Philadelphia Inquirer story about a hockey coach who allegedly molested his players, reporter Rick O’Brien successfully blends hard news elements with narrative technique.

This news story starts with a hard news lead that points out the name of the accused and what crime was committed. Unlike other hard news stories, however, the reporter provides brief background information about the accused and where did the whole crime occur.

The crime was about a coach (pictured on the right) at a youth hockey club who allegedly committed sexual assault on two players under the age of 16. The reporter quotes the director of the rink to show how shocking the event is. The reporter uses narrative techniques to give the whole news story a little variety. These narrative techniques allow readers to get to know the central character of the story more.

The reporter again cites from the information provided by police to let readers know the latest development of the event. Apart from describing the morning when the coach is arrested, the reporter also spends some time describing the children’s team and their glorious record. From the description of the kids, the discussion is gradually directed to the owner of the club and his family. The reporter interviews parents and shows their support for the hockey club.

Toward the end, the reporter shifts the focus to the owner’s family. There’s a paragraph that is devoted to the description of how much the mother of the owner is disturbed by the whole event. Using a quote from the owner, the reporter emphasizes that all employees should have no previous criminal history.

Blending allows the story to flow more smoothly and provides readers with more information that might help them to get into the story.

– Text by Hao Wei Yang. Image from philly.com.

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