Environmentally Engaged

In the Detroit Free Press’ article, Three years after oil spill, a slow recovery haunts Kalamazoo River, (http://www.freep.com/article/20130623/NEWS06/306230059/), Keith Manery writes about the impact that the oil spill has had on the Kalamazoo River itself, but the communities surrounding the River. The article gives statistics on health effects that the oil spill has had on the people in the surrounding areas and also information about the animals recovered during the clean up. The article also includes personal stories about the effect that the oil spill has had on the community. 

Do you think it is important to include personal stories in news articles? As it relates to this article, what effect do you think that personal stories have on the article? In what other ways does this article make every day people care about the oil spill?

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5 Responses to “Environmentally Engaged”

  1. I really liked how the writer started the piece with the scene of being in a canoe and riding along the Kalamazoo River. The imagery that he uses becomes that much more real as you imagine yourself in the canoe with the writer. However, there doesn’t seem to be a real “nut” graph after the lede. Is that okay in certain types of pieces? Or in this case, does the lede act as the nut graph as well?

    The personal story worked really well to connect the reader to the news article. The personal story is especially drawing for a US audience, where many people prioritize the rights of business owners and the freedoms that come with it. Talking about the loss of business of the woman and her persistence to continue her life normally makes the reader sympathize for her and care about the topic.

    Lastly, I really enjoyed the transition from the local issue to the greater issue surrounding the EPA.

  2. If the story is about the effect of an event on people, I definitely think that personal stories should be included. Simply saying, “A daycare center didn’t receive air purifying equipment for days following the spill,” isn’t as compelling as a mother talking about the effects that the lack of necessary emergency supplies caused for her children. Of course this causes bias, intentionally or not. A journalist may be as impartial as need be, but I wouldn’t expect the same out of someone being interviewed. They are being interviewed for a specific story they have, and if they didn’t have any ulterior opinions on it I would be shocked. That being said, this is a well written article about health issues facing residents near the spill zone, and while the author is very good at keeping his own words free from bias, the quotes he chose from interviewees make his view on the matter pretty apparent.

  3. I thought that the progression of scenes in this article was what made it so effective. Starting off with the beauty on the surface of the river then diving into the problems still facing the community gives the reader a sense of normalcy in the face of continued destruction. I think that putting the companies statements near the beginning was a good way to give them a voice, but then diving straight into the personal statements from there built up a good sense of outrage, as their statements did not seem to address the issues at hand. I think that focusing on the playground was a nice way to illustrate the invasion of the accident into personal life of the residents and wildlife. The amount of detail in this piece made each fact feel vivid, especially when describing the health troubles faced by the citizens and the difficulties in restoring the river. The article presented both the successes and the failures in restoration in a way which felt matter of fact and not hyped up at all. And yes, the attention paid to individual stories really helped bring that out.

  4. Sometimes it can be hard for readers to conceptualize the real life suffering that words on a page try to convey. Getting a first hand experience of what happened in a personal story brings depth to the event for the reader: how this person initially tried to combat the issue, how the issue has impacted their life, how it is still an issue. Personal stories resonate with people because they can put themselves in another’s shoes – just for a moment. This brings empathy and interest, which are all important ways to become environmentally engaged. Pictures are another great way to give readers an accurate depiction of the event, and bring light to situations that they probably had not considered beforehand.

  5. I think using personal accounts is absolutely critical to bringing a story to life. Not only does it bring validity to the story, but often, it uncovers more about the story that would not have otherwise been revealed.

    In this instance, the microeconomics of this issue probably would have overlooked if that local business owner hadn’t been interviewed.

    Also, I think it makes the event more real. Bringing real people into the story, not these untouchable entities like the EPA and other organizations, makes it more valid.

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