Wick Communications

Seeing the little stories

In Photography on June 15, 2012 at 7:30 am

I tripped over the above photo when I stumbled upon a hyperlocal news blog called Uptown Almanac, which is based in San Francisco.

If you saw that note, taped to a garage door in a crowded city, would you consider that news? Is it news that graffiti artists tag one man’s garage? Would you even notice the note?

I ask because, if you are like me, you chuckled at that note. I mentioned it to others. Then I passed on the link to the Uptown Almanac’s story.

I know I don’t have to lecture any Kicker readers on the importance of the little stories. School science fairs, street festivals, high school baseball games – these are our stock and trade.

And sometimes they feel a little stale. There is a rhythm to those kinds of event-driven stories. They come around the pike at the same time every year. After you’ve written about the Downtown Soiree for about three years running, you can do it in your sleep and you can put your readership to sleep at the very same time. If you are honest, you have probably been guilty of doing just that. …

The sign on the garage works as a blog post and, I think, a news story for two reasons. It’s an oddly refreshing response to a typical urban problem. And it is a specific instance of a very large problem. An enterprising writer could turn a lede focusing on the garage sign into 1,000 inches on graffiti artists and what compels them, the arts community’s embrace of spray-paint art, the city’s response to homeowners’ complaints – these are stories fit for readers of the Uptown Almanac.

There are a million such scenes all around us and together they provide the mosaic of our communities. The sign on the garage won’t be found on any government agenda. No one is writing a press release. You have to open your eyes.

Clay

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