Andrea Rondeau column: Why are some stories compelling and others don’t capture the imagination?

By the time you read this, the two teenagers from Port Alberni who are suspects in two homicides and one suspicious death in B.C. may well have been captured (at least, we hope this ends with them being captured — the father of one of the young men has predicted a much more tragic end).

But one thing is certain, we will all be sitting on the edge of our seats following this as the resolution unfolds.

You see, this is one of those stories.

There are great stories that as journalists we pursue and put a lot of shoe leather into. But then there are stories like this one that come out of nowhere and capture the imagination of not just the public, but the journalists who are covering them.

Sometimes it’s tough to know why one story grabs readers’ attention, while another similar story does not. For example, right here in Cowichan and indeed across the country everyone was waiting to hear news about the search for missing father Ben Kilmer. That case ended tragically, but it wasn’t the ending that had people invested. Yet recently, when a hiker went missing on Heather Mountain, no provincial or national media bit, in spite of the fact that this, too was a great story, and one of survival, at that.

So why does one have legs, so to speak, and the other more limited appeal? Even after all my years in journalism, I still can’t tell you.

I can tell you a few of the things that make a story like what’s happened up in northern B.C. compelling. There’s a sense of mystery. Especially at first, there were three people dead and two missing (with further incorrect speculation linking the disappearance of two Surrey men to this crime as well). It was unclear if the crimes were connected in any way. It made us wonder, and spin our own theories.

People living in northern B.C. felt fear and uneasiness at this sudden violence in their midst.

Even now that the two Port Alberni teens have been named as suspects, and a manhunt is underway, a lot of mystery still remains. How did two teenagers go from working at Wal-Mart and heading out on a road trip turn into a crime spree? Who are these boys? Who is the man that was found dead near the teenagers’ burnt out camper?

Interviews with the father of one of the boys are incredibly sad. And of course our hearts break for the families of the two tourists whose lives seem to have been so senselessly taken.

We’ve watched this case evolve before our eyes, and we anxiously await new developments.

This is just one of those stories. And we’ll all follow it to the end.

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