How can I cover health and not just a disease?
What's the best way to approach a "disease-of-the-week"
story? It seems we've been doing a lot lately, and they all
sound alike. -- Sick of It
I've been there. The story goes like this: Kid has a terrible
problem. Awful symptoms are listed. Experts offer insight.
Parents practically live at hospital/special home/research
center. Blah blah blah.
The key here is blah blah blah, which is what it
sounds like to anyone who isn't related to the people in the
story or afflicted with the same malady.
The remedy? Instead of making the disease the story, look
for the bigger idea in the dynamics of the story. What does
this person's struggle say about family? About identity? About
happiness, isolation, community, etc.? The list of possibilities
goes on forever.
A great example is Partial View: An Alzheimer's Journal
(Southern Methodist University Press, 1998), which chronicles
a professor's progressive loss of his own past -- his life
story -- through Alzheimer's disease. Accompanying photos
were taken by Washington Post photographer Nancy
Andrews. The story is only partly about Alzheimer's. It's
really about a historian losing his own history. It's a great
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