Thursday, December 04, 2008

Telling a friend's story

Jeanna Duerscherl of The Roanoke Times steps out from behind her cameras to talk about covering the very personal story of a friend's battle with a rare, incurable cancer. See her blog at Backstory: Photographing my friend:

"Typically, journalists tend to avoid telling stories about people they know on a personal level. It's complicated: Our job is to tell people's stories - not become part of the story. And when we have closer, personal relationships with the people whose stories we're telling, sometimes our stories intertwine. And sometimes it becomes impossible not to become part of their story. That's why we explain our relationships to our readers."

The photojournalist shot video interviews with her roller-derby friend, Brooke Smith, as well as a slideshow of stills that accompany the story. In her blog essay, she discusses the thought process behind doing the story at all:

"I needed to make sure I would be doing it because I believe this story has the power to make people stop for a moment and reflect on their own lives."

To see how well she succeeded, here's the full story, Brooke Smith: Letting go, letting God. The text is by reporter Rob Johnson, who also interviewed Brooke's doctors and friends.

(The designer of the white-text-on-black Web page isn't credited. Personally, I think that layout makes the story hard to read, but the "print this" button switches it to black-on-white.)

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