This is how you cover an apartment fire. The best story on WXIA’s 7pm news Monday was Jon Shirek’s piece about a complex that burned overnight. The story could have been a cliche, filled with phrases like “lucky to be alive” and “picking up the pieces of their broken lives.” Shirek, one of the best TV news writers in town, knows better. He found a woman who survived the fire (everybody got out alive). He revealed that the woman had also survived the March tornado. Then he revealed that she had been displaced by hurricane Katrina. Sounds not-so-compelling here. Shirek worked it.
Shirek’s storytelling was a newswriting clinic, uncovering each element as the story developed– giving the audience a small “holy smokes!” moment with each revelation. Shirek has been around a long time and has doubtless told this story countless times. He made this one memorable. Regrettably, it doesn’t appear to be on 11’s web site.