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TagRussell Adams, deputy bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal’s corporate bureau, “discovered” the story of what he described as the world’s most epic game of tag and how it kept 10 friends from Spokane, Wash., connected from high school into middle age.

Adams wrote an article nearly six years ago that has turned into the blockbuster movie “Tag.”    Why was the Wall Street Journal even writing an article about this?

It’s not an “aha” moment.  It’s an “A-hed” moment.

Adams says in a recent follow-up article that an “A-hed” is the Journal name for the funny, quirky story that appears amid the news on the front page each day.

Back in 2012, Adams got an e-mail from a former colleague of his whom no longer worked at the Journal, suggesting a story idea.  It was a former reporter pitching a current reporter:

“I wondered if you might want to write that crazy ahed i mentioned to you about the guys who play ‘tag’ every feb. remember?”

So it began.

As Adams started working on the story, he said he had doubts about it from the start. He wrote in the follow-up article that he wondered if readers would relate to 10 guys they never heard of who chased each other around for a month each year.  He said he thought his editors might ask for something broader, like a trend story about adults who play kids’ games.   Nope.  His Page One editor wanted the story on the 10 guys’ game.

In his recent Journal article, Adams provided this recap:

On Jan. 29, 2013, the story appeared on the front page of the Journal with the headline, “It Takes Caution, Planning to Avoid Being ‘It.’ ” Emails flooded in. People didn’t just identify—they wanted in. A group of military vets asked for a copy of the “Tag Participation Agreement,” the legal document that outlined the rules of the game. So did a group of women from Texas who had lost touch after college. Eventually we put the contract online.

Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the movie, as Adams wrapped up his article:

Early in the movie a Journal reporter—played by British actress Annabelle Wallis —is interviewing Callahan ( Mr. Hamm ), CEO of an insurance company, when Hoagie ( Mr. Helms ) busts in and tags him. Callahan decides to drop everything to pursue the game and tells the reporter they’ll have to reschedule the interview.

No way, she tells him. She’s coming along: “This is a story.”

And that is an “A-hed” moment.

Scott Hanson
Scott Hanson
President Scott is president of HMA Public Relations and a founding member of the Public Relations Global Network. He’s a Phoenix native, husband, father of two and a fan of all sports and a participant in some. Check out Scott's full bio

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