Appleton tells an old story — with new digital twists

[Big Appleton: Cory Chisel and band member Adriel Harris]

You know this story well: A young musician from the heartland takes a leap of faith, traveling to New York City in search of fame and fortune. Wisconsin’s Post-Crescent tells that story today, but with multimedia angles that transform this package into a nearly textbook-perfect example of contemporary digital journalism.

Writer Eric Klister and photographer Sharon Cekada trace the journey of guitarist Cory Chisel of Appleton, Wis., on his way to a crucial performance last month at a small New York nightclub. Chisel, 26, and his Wandering Sons band got an RCA Records contract last year, a deal that made him the first Appleton musician in more than 30 years to sign with a major label.

“You might think this would be the quintessential story of a small town boy’s journey to the big time, and you would be right — to an extent,” Klister says of that nightclub date. “Chisel is indeed humbled by this once-in-a-lifetime chance. But when it’s time to play music, he exudes the confidence of a performer who’s seen it all. If there was anything working against him on this leg of his improbable journey, it wasn’t awe or self-doubt — it was a stuffy nose.”

The video shot in New York is quite good: It’s well edited, overlaying voice and music on moving and still images — just the right story-telling format for a subject with both action and sound. And that brings me to one of my few quibbles: the Post-Crescent uses a video player, common across Gannett websites, that doesn’t allow me to embed the video here — something I was able to do with that Argus Leader video we read about Friday. The Post-Crescent player doesn’t include an easy-to-grab permalink, either.

On the plus side, however, the paper smartly organized the Chisel package on one page (screenshot, below), where you can find all the elements: stories; video; posts from Klister’s Valley Jams Blog; photo slideshows, and downloadable MP3 audio clips. It all points to Chisel’s concert next Friday in Appleton, with his Wandering Sons.

The Post-Crescent at a glance:

  • Publisher: Genia Lovett
  • Executive editor: Dan Flannery
  • Founded: 1853
  • Joined Gannett: 2000
  • Employees: 473
  • Circulation: 52,005, weekdays; 65,568, Sundays

A Gannett Blog reader suggested I write about the Chisel package. Do you have an example of good work at a Gannett paper or TV station? Leave a note in the comments section, below. Or to e-mail me confidentially, use this link from a non-work computer; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Photo: Sharon Cekada, Post-Crescent; today’s front page, Newseum]

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