I consider readers of this column a special and loyal group, so I don’t mind taking a little chance with you. I hope you’ll bear with me. So, I’d like you to quit reading this column and get the “Living & Arts” section of your Sunday newspaper. If you haven’t already read it, read the main story with the headline “The Perfect Match.” When you’re done come back to this. I promise you’ll be glad you did. (You also can find Parts 1 and 2 of the feature in the Life/Arts section of your iPad app. A bonus video can also be found in our app's Multimedia section, under the Life/Arts section of Video.)
My guess is that you’ve wiped away a few tears or otherwise connected emotionally, so thanks for returning to this column. I’d like to tell you a little about the story you’ve just read.
Sunday, we introduced a new feature called “Personal Journeys.” This week’s is the dramatic and emotional story of the Dickmans, an Acworth family with two children who needed kidney transplants. (My favorite part: when the donor for their son, looking for a sign from God that she should donate the kidney, finds a very apparent one. If you haven’t read the story, I don’t see how you can resist now.)
I’ve read it several times, and it brought tears to my eyes each time.
You just can’t help but feel the family’s fear, hope and ultimate triumph. You have to pull and hope for them.
We know our readers love good stories — because you’ve told us that. So get used to reading more stories like this, because we’re making a commitment to bring you one every Sunday.
Ken Foskett, assistant managing editor in charge of this project, puts it this way: “These are stories that inspire, amaze and reveal some of the deeper, more meaningful aspects of our lives.”
This is the latest in the ongoing work by the staff of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to improve your newspaper.
I’ve written about our increased efforts at investigative reporting, and about our emphasis on balancing points of view throughout the newspaper. Those matters, of course, are at the core of a good newspaper.
But the “hard news” can sometimes lack the emotional connection we know you like to feel with your newspaper and your community.
One way to provide that: Great storytelling.
Our reporters and editors have been working at their craft, and embracing one of the strongest traditions of this newspaper and of journalism in the South.
We’ve had the good fortune to be the home of great story tellers, from Margaret Mitchell to Ralph McGill and from Celestine Sibley to Lewis Grizzard.
When we’ve previously done these kinds of stories, we always get strong feedback.
In March, Helena Oliviero, the writer of the story in Sunday’s newspaper, wrote about an Atlanta man who underwent a double lung transplant after returning from his honeymoon. Here’s what some readers said about that story:
● “I’ve lived in Atlanta for 12 years, read the AJC every day and this was the best story I’ve ever read in the AJC. Great job!”
● “I just wanted to thank you for sharing this story — I am in tears, at work. Amazing!”
Of course, we enjoy hearing such feedback. And we hope more and more of you will feel that way about this new feature.
A few upcoming “Personal Journeys” that you can look forward to:
● An Atlanta man discovers his high school basketball coach from 40 years ago is living in a homeless shelter and undergoing treatment for bone cancer. He moves the coach out of the shelter and into his own home to take care of him.
● Decatur resident Natasha Trethewey, who will be installed as the new U.S. Poet Laureate on Sept. 13, will be profiled.
● An Atlanta woman who nearly drowned when she was 16 overcomes a life-long phobia of the water, learns to swim and now works as a swim teacher instructing adults afraid of the water.
If you have ideas or people you think we should write about, contact Foskett at personaljourneys@ ajc.com. We’d love to know what you thought of today’s story as well.
We know you are interested in a great, in-depth experience with your Sunday newspaper. We’ve been bringing you more investigative reporting than ever, more community news, enhanced editorial pages and other improvements. Now, we want to make sure that every Sunday you also have the opportunity to relax and learn life’s lessons from the extraordinary individuals who are such a rich part of our community. We want you to thoroughly enjoy every Sunday’s newspaper. I hope that’s just what you’re doing.