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Posted by on Apr 7, 2014 in Creative Process, Featured | 0 comments

Everybody Has A Story

Everybody Has A Story

Every week on The Early Show (CBS), correspondent Steve Hartman tosses a dart over his right shoulder at a map to determine where he will go for his next story.

The segment is called Everybody Has A Story, and when Hartman arrives in town he chooses a name at random from the phone book, calls the person up, and begins the interview process.

As a result of his skill as a journalist and reporter, Steve has produced 100 of these stories, and has won virtually every major broadcast journalism award there is — including an Emmy.

Everybody Has A Story has taken him off-the-beaten-path to places where television simply doesn’t go.

When asked what he has learned, Steve replies, “I guess one thing I’ve learned is that people are just a heck of a lot more interesting and a heck of a lot more newsworthy than I ever thought they were.”

Steve is responsible for two stories a week and faces this unique challenge: he is not allowed to filter his stories. Wherever the dart hits and whatever name he picks is the person he has to interview.

His stories range from a funeral director who keeps a mummy in his garage, to a couple of senior citizens who found love the second time around in a Tennessee senior center.

The youngest person Steve has interviewed is a 4-year-old cowgirl and the oldest is an 87-year-old woman from Louisiana. But no matter the story, Steve’s process is still the same:

1. Get to know the person first. Don’t just walk in the door and start recording.

2. Learn about the person in detail. Find out what’s unique and different about them.

3. See life through their eyes. What did I learn that helped me see life differently?

4. Find the kernel of the story. Whittle away everything that doesn’t build the storyline.

5. Look for special moments. These “moments” are what makes a story rich!

As he packs his bags to shoot story 101, Steve Hartman reflects on the impact his work has had on him personally.

“It’s impossible to walk past anyone and not realize that every single person is unique and has something worthy to say. I’ve met so many people from so many different walks of life during this project, and I’ve been able to see first-hand how wonderfully complicated we are.”

I wonder what it would be like to produce stories the way Steve Hartman does? What if he asked you to tell your story?

[Source: “100th Edition: Everybody Has A Story” by Tatiana Morales (cbsnews.org). And “Everybody Has A Story” by Jill Geisler, Leadership and Management Group Leader, Poynter Online (pointer.org)]