Not the stories you want, but the stories you deserve
I was fortunate to glean writing wisdom from Kate Fagan, a former reporter at ESPN and author of three books, last week. In addition to her speaking engagements in the valley, she was generous enough to meet with the editors and writers of the Vail Daily, too.
One of her comments stuck with me. She lamented the tendency of large sports media corporations to neglect coverage of countless great stories because the perpetual Lebron James, Dallas Cowboys and New York Knicks beats are what sells. The frustration felt by writers, even, or perhaps especially, at places as high up on the totem pole as ESPN is to always be funneled down a feature-freeway towards an ever-narrowing lane of topics because of audiences’ limited appetites. I posed a question: Could this be solved if a gutsy publication disregarded the click-bait temptation and decided to cover the stories that matter?
Her answer summarized that, basically, the journalists who make it up the ladder started out doing just that. Continuing to uncover those unheralded narratives, however, is tossed aside when higher pay is offered to ramble on. I surmise that readers can only have so much 22-wide dissection of the New York Jets’ offensive and defensive woes.
Readers of the Vail Daily, I offer you a pledge to not follow this current. My mission is to promote the stories you care about, even if you didn’t realize you should.
This September, I asked students in my high school world history classroom: “Who won the Olympic gold medal and set the American record in the 800-meters last month?”
I shouldn’t have been as stunned as I was that this TikTok generation was oblivious to one Athing Mu. Finally, someone spoke up, “Oh! Is that who was busted for marijuana?” My shock pivoted towards sadness. Instead of idolizing the confident, humble, class act in Mu, a role model, undefeated on the track on the NCAA, American, and World stages in 2021, they remembered an athlete, Sha’Carri Richardson, whose inability to make our Olympic squad didn’t squash her media attention in the slightest.
Why does Richardson hold center court? Well, for one, she checks the boxes that big-time writers have to assure are present if they are going to write a story. And because of this, stories about Mu, Sydney McLaughlin, (who set the world record, twice, in the three-week Olympic trials and Olympic games span) and countless others go unreported.
Eagle, Gypsum, Edwards, Vail. Who are your amazing athletes? Who is living life to the fullest? Helping others? Striving for greatness? Doing things the right way? Whose story is waiting to be told?
This writer desires to promulgate positivity. I’m not looking to meet a quota of coverage or collaborate for clickbait. I am here for people and their stories. If the message should be heard, let’s relay it.
Reach out to email@example.com with your ideas.