Category: Narrative

How do you tell a complicated story?

1. Focus on answering one simple question

2. Answer it through the stories of the people at the heart of the problem.

Take a look at a terrific story in the New York Times May 7. In The Broken Promise of Choice, reporters Elizabeth Harris and Ford Fessenden needed to explain a ridiculously complex application process for New York City’s eighth graders who wanted to go to the city’s few good really good schools. The story answered this question: A decade after Mayor Michael Bloomberg allowed students throughout the city to choose their high schools are so few poor students in the best of those schools?

To take us slowly through this process, which could have been tedious, the reporters focus on one counselor and two students at one middle school in the Bronx. Their hopes and frustrations keep the reader tied into what could have been a tedious story about processes and statistics.

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