Nashville’s Travis Loller, who has written extensively about endangered species over the years, wanted to tell the story of the Endangered Species Act as it turned 50. Her first goal was to bring together some of the government employees from the early days for a reunion, but time and budget prevented that. Loller, undaunted, did the next best thing: She convened them through her own reporting for what turned out as a compelling alternative story form: a virtual roundtable in which they recounted their wide experiences with animals — both actual and political — as the act took effect in 1973 and began to change (and not change) the way people viewed endangered species. Her willingness to experiment with story form and use smart anecdotes as first rough drafts of history produced a compelling piece that ran the day before the 50th anniversary.