Born with Purpose
Click here to listen to the audio reporting.
Born with Purpose tells the story of Michael Africa, Jr. — a story I stumbled upon over several years of covering the aftermath of the infamous and tragic MOVE Bombing in Philadelphia. The bombing was a dramatic and well-known incident that dominated headlines for years. It had so many subparts that you could literally write a piece on any one of the people or various occurrences that led up to it and took place afterward. The Transom project gave me the opportunity to tell a piece of the story that was rarely told.
As a journalist, and now producer, I learned that many times there are stories within stories. My method of focus when telling a smaller part of a much larger story is to first choose the part that would be the root or focal point and then use selection versus compression to tell that piece of the story. It is so hard not to lose focus when there’s a larger story that casts a shadow over the one you’re trying to tell, but I think we used production techniques that allowed us to explain the significance of bigger elements without letting those elements hijack the compelling and interesting, yet small, story within the story.
This audio story incorporates sound taken from my personal interview archives, as well as from decades of old documentaries and a taped interview created for the project. Because the story spanned 40 years, I think the added sound provided nuance and layers to the storytelling that was needed to accomplish the quick peeks at a broader narrative while not losing focus. I also think when telling stories that take years to develop, you have to use sound to take people to drop-points in time. Music, sound effects, natural sound and narration can be a time machine or time capsule to bring up significant moments, while keeping the story short. Also, including questions of my main subject that helped fast forward through major incidents also helped tremendously. Thanks to Rob and the Transom crew, I think we made it work.