This is a rebroadcast of the talk that Matt Tullis had with Mike Wilson in May 2015. Wilson was just named a deputy editor for enterprise in Sports at the New York Times. When we did this interview, Wilson had just been named editor of the Dallas Morning News.
Wilson has a long track record of supporting journalists who write narratives. When he was at the Tampa Bay Times, he worked with a number of reporters who have been on this show: Ben Montgomery, Lane DeGregory, Michael Kruse, Kelley Benham French, Leonora LaPeter Anton, John Woodrow Cox, and more. They’re all excellent storytellers. That, in Wilson’s mind, is important, especially in news organizations.
“Stories are how we understand the world, or how we share our experiences,” he said in the show. “They’re how we communicate with loved ones. So it’s very elemental stuff for human beings. So it’s only natural that telling stories as journalists would also be really important.”
When Wilson was a top editor at the Tampa Bay Times, the newspaper started publishing Encounters. The front page series consisted of short, interesting stories that one would not define traditionally as news.
“It was supposed to be a really enjoyable five to six minute read for readers,” he said. “The Michael Kruse story about the guy teaching his daughter to ride a bike, there was absolutely nothing special about that story and then everything was special about it. It described this moment that probably just about every parent has been through of setting up your child on two wheels for the first time and letting go and watching them take those first few kind of halting pedaling steps forward and it was just this absolutely beautiful capturing of a universal moment.
Other stories mentioned in this episode:
• Nathan Thornburgh’s The Root of All Things
• Lane DeGregory’s Encounter on a rodeo rider