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ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – May 26, 2017

SC Featured interviews Tim Clauson (seated), the father of the late IndyCar driver Bryan Clauson.
(Photo courtesy of Indiana Donor Network)

Sunday’s SC Featured segment on SportsCenter will tell the story of a tragic death that led to life for another person, Bob Pockrass also wrote the story on ESPN.com.

Eight months after 27-year-old Bryan Clauson, a former driver in both the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR, was killed in a short track racing crash, his family met the recipient of his donated heart: a 64-year-old Army war veteran.

Jen Lada is the reporter on “Restart,” which will debut in the 10 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter and re-air throughout the day. Watch the trailer above.

“It’s incredibly moving,” said Lada, who worked with producer Lauren Stowell from the ESPN Features Unit. “At the end of the day it’s a story about family, not only the family that we have but the family we inherit through the most unusual circumstances and sometimes the most tragic of circumstances.”

Jen Lada
(Joe Faraoni/ ESPN Images)

Lada interviewed members of Clauson’s family in Noblesville, Ind., and transplant recipient Dan Alexander in Omaha, Neb., for the story.

“What really struck me about this was the varying emotions from each member of the Clauson family,” Lada said. “For some, meeting Dan was therapeutic, and they were not only welcome to the idea but eager for that type of closure. And others were more resistant, more hesitant to potentially open up that wound again.

“And so the journey that we are going to take the viewer on is seeing how these people reconcile those feelings,” she said. “I think that’s probably one of the most moving parts of the story.

I love the permanency to [features], and I love telling stories. It’s something I’ve always been attracted to.
– Jen Lada

“What’s fascinating is that Bryan had this personality where he really connected with people,” she said. “He had opportunities to race at the highest levels but he found the most connection with the people at the dirt racetracks, and it’s because it was such a community, such a family. So you’re almost seeing this parallel between the racing community family that Bryan felt so strongly about, with the family that the Clausons gain when they make this connection with Dan’s family.”

Lada is enjoying her new role with SC Featured this year which includes hosting the new SC Featured podcast series, which posts after each week’s story debuts.

“I love the features,” she said. “I love the permanency to them, and I love telling stories. It’s something I’ve always been attracted to.”

E:60 profiles five-year-old National Spelling Bee qualifier
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E:60 producer Brian Rivera sits with Edith Fuller, 5, and her two younger brothers. They were participating in a mock spelling bee. (Photo courtesy of Brian Rivera/ESPN)
Before we shot anything, I spent time playing with her and her little brothers in their backyard and just let her talk about the things she wanted to – their Mulberry tree, what she was growing in their garden.
– Brian Rivera on working with the Fullers

This Sunday E:60 (ESPN, 9 a.m. ET) introduces spelling phenom Edith Fuller to a wider audience. The youngest person to ever qualify for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Fuller is sure to be one of many memorable youngsters competing in the annual event presented all across ESPN. Producer Brian Rivera discusses the creation of the piece you shouldn’t miss. Watch an excerpt below.

The profile on Edith Fuller is so effective and yet it’s only a few minutes in length. How were you able to produce such a brief, impactful segment?
It’s a simple story with very organic drama, but it’s always made easier when the characters are naturally gifted storytellers, as she and her parents are. It doesn’t hurt to have a main subject as cute and fascinating as Edith truly is. At E:60 we try to tell stories as economically and intelligently as we can. This particular one just really lent itself perfectly to a shorter format.

Any tips on interviewing a five-year-old?
It was difficult, but I tried to put her at ease. Before we shot anything, I spent time playing with her and her little brothers in their backyard and just let her talk about the things she wanted to – their Mulberry tree, what she was growing in their garden. When we started shooting her interview, which required her to look at the camera lens and not at me, I made a smiley face out of yellow construction paper and taped it above the camera lens for her to look at. Then we just let her take her time with each question. She answered most comfortably, others less so, but she was brave, and I’m so glad she let us capture how special she is.

– Molly Mita

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Journalism on Display
  • ESPN The Magazine’s Seth Wickersham explores the locker room dynamic of the Seattle Seahawks in his latest piece “Richard Sherman Won’t Let It Go and It’s A Problem” on ESPN.com. Wickersham answers the questions many have been asking this offseason such as why a future Hall of Famer, in his prime, has asked for a trade and why the Seahawks don’t mind letting Sherman go.
  • ESPN investigative reporter Paula Lavigne and college football writer Mark Schlabach have collaborated to write a new book Violated: Exposing Rape at Baylor University Amid College Football’s Sexual Assault Crisis. The two award-winning writers share in-depth research alongside new interviews from victims, coaches, players and officials that reveal new details. The book is scheduled to come out on Aug. 22, 2017.
  • E:60 will profile Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban on Sunday. Subban, who was the subject of a controversial trade when the Montreal Canadiens traded him to the Predators last year, is now headed to the Stanley Cup with the Predators for the first time in franchise history. Reporter Jeremy Schaap spent time with Subban, his family, and NHL All-Stars to complete the profile that will debut Sunday (ESPN, 9 a.m. ET). Watch an excerpt below.
  • LeBron James passed Michael Jordan as the all-time playoff scoring leader and the Cleveland Cavaliers took home the team’s third consecutive Eastern Conference Championship this week. After two subpar performances, a humble James showed fans what he can do just in time for the Cavaliers to head to the NBA Finals to play the Golden State Warriors for the third consecutive year. Senior writer Jerry Bembry gives readers an inside look at the scene and reactions from Thursday’s Game 5 for TheUndefeated.com.
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