NPPA Workshop Notes: Part 3

By: Mandy Mitchell


I really enjoyed listening to Chris Vanderveen speak at the NPPA workshop. Chris is an investigative reporter at KUSA in Denver and has really made a name for himself in the investigative world even though he’s only been in that arena for a short period of time.

Chris is a real storyteller and doesn’t do the stereotypical stuff like holding up documents or screaming about how exclusive his interview is. He tries to stay away from investigative clichés like “PARENT’S WORST NIGHTMARE!!” and “SHOCKING DETAILS!!!”…

The really cool part about Chris’ reporting is that it has led to some major change. His story on helicopter crashes got the attention of Congress!

He based his entire presentation around the old Wendy’s commercial “Where’s the beef?!”

That’s a great place to start for any us who work in this business. We need to do more with the meat and less with the other crap.

So here are my raw notes. Once again, feel free to ask for more context in the comment section or on the Facebook page. I encourage you to follow Chris on Twitter: @Chrisvanderveen

3 C’s of Storytelling:

  • Character
  • Conflict
  • Consistency of Theme

-We need these three things for a great story.

Let’s stay away from these phrases: “He is 85 years young”…”Makeshift memorial”…”More questions than answers..” (YUCK!)

-There are cameras everywhere these days. If you are working on a story, ask for surveillance video. You would be surprised how many things are actually caught on tape. Can truly add to a story. (Chris used this in a hit and run story)…

-None of us got in to this business to cover stories on the surface level. We do too much surface level reporting in TV news and that is CRUSHING US.

-It’s important to have curiosity. Ask a question no one else is asking.

-We have all become “fact regurgitators”

-Interesting fact. KUSA has very little b-roll of the Aurora shooting. Why? They were going live the entire time. We need to think about that when something big happens. Yes…cover the “now” but also think about what’s next.

The Art of following up…

  • We cover too much crime on the front end. Follow up and find out how cases end.
  • Keep a list of stories that could have follow ups.
  • Monitor court cases
  • tell stories others have forgotten.




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