Digital Story Critique #4: His Saving Grace

*I am currently working my way through my fourth semester of the Information and Learning Technologies master’s program at University of Colorado, Denver.  This is the fourth post within a series of critiques on digital stories that I’ve been assigned to write for a course titled Digital Storytelling.

This week’s critique is on a digital story titled His Saving Grace that I found on the Chicago Tribune’s website.  The story was written by Kevin Pang and photographed by Abel Uribe.  His Saving Grace is a multimedia piece about chef Curtis Duffy and how his relationship with food saved him after his parents’ murder-suicide.  The story was reported through firsthand interviews in Chicago and Ohio, court documents, sheriff’s reports, and archival footage.  This digital story is a lavish multimedia presentation, complete with police audio clips, news reports, photos, short video clips, and audio narration from Curtis Duffy.  Kevin Page used his material to launch into creating a documentary that became available worldwide on February 2nd, 2016.  His Saving Grace

I chose to critique this multimedia presentation because it relates closely to my theme for this course, a self-reflection on life, through food.  I very much enjoyed the digital story and even teared up a few times.  Chef Curtis Duffy’s life is certainly a tremendously fascinating one with awful heartache, extreme passion, and incredible success.  Not many people have a true saving grace, but Curtis Duffy does, and it’s food.

To critique this piece, I used the following traits from Jason Ohler’s “Assessing digital stories, new media narrative“:  1.) story, 2.) research and 3.) media application.

  • Story – The story behind this piece was fantastic.  Pang begins by writing about the present tense…Chef Curtis Duffy anxiously awaiting the 9:30PM reservation at his new restaurant, Grace.  He then presents the story of Duffy’s journey to becoming a phenomenal chef by telling of Duffy’s childhood, the murder-suicide of Duffy’s parents, and Duffy’ motherly relationship with his middle school home economics teacher.   The structure of the story was very well done and ends with Pang weaving back to the present.  And the way that Pang writes the story and utilizes multimedia pieces truly expresses the journey and transformation of his real life subject.
  • Research – It’s obvious from the level of detail and the multimedia pieces that are included in the story, that Pang did his research and then some.  He apparently followed his subject for eight months, utilizing every single second of downtime to uncover the delicate experiences that made Chef Duffy who he is today.  The physical research is proven by the police reports and dated photos that were used to tell this story and the intellectual research is proven by Pang’s writing and storytelling.
  • Media Application – The use of media was extremely appropriate and very supportive of the story.  It was balanced and well considered throughout the length of the presentation and each media piece complemented the section of the story where it was placed.  The multimedia aspect of the piece was thoroughly well done.

Kevin Pang did an excellent job with this digital story, which unsurprisingly led him to success with his film.  Check out For Grace, the award-winning documentary on Curtis Duffy, available for rent or for purchase.For Grace Film

Header image from here.