Jamaican Trash Fires may cause severe health problems

Hello all,

In lieu of our recent visit to the recycling plant, where we learned about waste management in the city of Ann Arbor and the state of Michigan, I came across an article that describes how waste is controlled in another region of the world.  However, their method of waste management is a little less safe for the surrounding community, as it has been releasing dangerous and possibly deadly toxins into the air.  Please read the following Washington post article about Jamaican trash fires and their negative impact.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/environmental-group-urges-jamaica-to-clamp-down-on-trash-fires-saying-pollutants-harm-health/2012/04/04/gIQA3kD7vS_story.html

What stands out to you about this article? Do you appreciate the short length of it?  How can the lede/nut graph/kicker be stronger?  If you were to write about this story, what would be the first thing that you would change?

Notice the quotes in the piece. Are all sides of the story being represented equally?  As practicing journalists, imagine that you are the writer. Who else would you want to interview, to make your story stronger?  What type of questions would you ask?

Looking forward to hearing your responses!  

Megan Novak

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4 Responses to “Jamaican Trash Fires may cause severe health problems”

  1. When I first saw the title of this article, I was expecting a story of a dying Jamaican landfill worker who is suffering from health problems due to the trash fires. I was surprised at how matter of fact this article was, and how it featured no interviews with the affected public. I also understand that this was a report from the Associated Press, but I do think there could have been more of an effort to go into detail about some of the underlying problems. Why are these fires occurring? How do these fires affect the Jamaican economy? Does the country’s financial status have anything to do with why these fires are allowed to take place? I think if I were to rewrite this story, I would include much more about impacts the fires are having on the ground. How are local people adjusting? Are they even able to adjust in the first place? I think it would also be important to include more information about Jamaica as a country and why we should care now. I found this article that I think provides more context, especially about the current state of the Jamaican economy due to environmental disasters.

    http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=107362

  2. I pretty much agree with the majority of unanswered questions posed. The article says nothing about the economy and really should hone in on the communities affected more. I would be curious what the people who live around the hazardous trash fires think.
    If I were writing the story, I would have tried to interview someone who has health problems and hasn’t a clue why, or someone who knows that their problems are coming from the dangerous chemicals in the air.
    If I were a reader of this story and saw that the reporter wrote “the long-term impact of exposure to chemicals released by the fire is unknown,” I would be upset. How can a journalist bring up a problem and not really have their readers understand the affects of the chemicals? I would expect a follow up fairly quickly that can tell the ones affected what problems they should expect or description of another case where trash fire chemicals were harmful elsewhere in the world.

  3. I agree that this article was much too matter-of-fact for the subject matter. I would have appreciated more information about the Jamaican watchdog group and possibly an additional expert opinion or too. Even more necessary would be some quotes from affected citizens. The lede was lackluster and was accompanied by almost no nut graph. The kicker had the right idea but only scratched the surface a more crucial economic problem troubling the island nation, which deserves greater mention within this short and unimpressive piece.

    -Alex Leader

  4. I agree with the statements above regarding the article. I felt the piece did not explore the topic thoroughly enough and I too would have liked to read more about the potential socio-political and economic impacts of this issue.
    If I were to change one thing about this article in terms of structure, I would change the lede. The subject in discussion is fire… what better way to start this article than with a scene involving these fires?
    I believe that the local representation was lacking in the quotes and I would have liked to hear more from those authorities burning the trash for their side was not represented at all.
    -Georgia Richardson

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