Let me start off by saying I absolutely love broadcast journalism. There is nothing I want to do more than report and give analysis on camera. But that doesn’t mean my field doesn’t have its shortcomings.

Too often, great stories are condensed to fit into an evening news time slot. These stories, with so many elements and views, could be told in much more detail. I saw a perfect example of the contrast between a feature story, and then the same story told on the local news in their format.

MediaStorm produced this tremendous feature on Walter Backerman, a run-of-the-mill seltzer man in New York City. Backerman treats his simple, yet rare, occupation with the utmost respect and sacrilege. To him, a mere seltzer bottle represents the legacy of his family, whom he inherited the business from. Please watch the actual story here:

The story, told by so many different shots, angles, and views, is crafted masterfully. We then watched the same story told on a local news station somewhere (I can’t find the link), and it wasn’t right. 

The whole tone and meaning of the story was just plain off. Since you had to take an original 12 minute piece, and turn it into a 2-3 minute piece, you lose the real depth of it all. It all feels rushed, pushed along with no delicacy. Backerman really cares about his craft deeply, and while you definitely saw some passion in the news piece, you just don’t get the same feel as you do from the MediaStorm piece.

Really, there’s nothing more the news station could’ve done. They meet different requirements than a website does. If you have a 12 minute piece on the news, that could be three or four stories getting cut off of the news. 

Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the beast. Maybe one day it will change, but I don’t think it will. Hopefully, people just know that there’s always something deeper to every story. 

Even the one of a seltzer man. 


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