A penny for your thoughts, a nickel for your bottles: Reporting on a proposed bottle bill in Massachusetts

This Boston Globe article starts with a human focus and expands to the larger issue of a proposed bottle bill. I thought that the author moved well from the particular case of the Lopez family to the low-income community in general. Coverage of politics is easily bogged down by rhetoric and abstractions. The outcomes of political decisions are usually more engaging to the public than their creation because the outcomes are specific and humanized. Do you think that the author was successful in creating human interest? Were you engaged by this lede? What audience do you think this is intended for? Ben Freed mentioned to us that it isn’t necessary to represent both/all sides if there is a consensus on an issue. As the author highlighted the supporters of the bottle bill, did you feel he represented the opposition fairly? Do you think he meant to prove (with the study’s results, anecdotally) that there is a consensus on the benefits of a bottle bill?

In the video accompanying the article, the journalist doesn’t edit out his own questions. What effect did that have on your perception of the video? Of the reporting? Should the video’s narrative have been more structured? Overall, what did the video add to the article?

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4 Responses to “A penny for your thoughts, a nickel for your bottles: Reporting on a proposed bottle bill in Massachusetts”

  1. I agree that starting with an individual’s story and expanding to the larger issue makes this article interesting to read. However, what I especially like about this story is the angle. When I think of a proposal to expand bottle deposit laws, I would immediately wonder how the law would affect litter, landfills, and recycling rates, and I’m sure many articles have been written exploring those sides of the issue. What will stay with me about this particular article is how the journalist found a less-obvious angle to focus on – how the proposed law will affect the poor. It is incredibly important for journalists to explore all facets of an issue, not just the “vote yes” and “vote no” sides, to help the public be as informed as possible.

  2. In regards to the video, I appreciate that the reporter interviewed many people and gave us a visual of the situation at hand. I wish he had added context in the beginning of the clip to the location he was. I was a bit confused when it started out with a close up of a man, with bad audio, unable to really understand what he was saying. The people in the video emphasize that there will be less trash on the street, but doesn’t raise the solution that all of these items that could be recycled are instead sent to the garbage dump.

  3. I had mixed feelings about this lede. Regarding your question I do think that it certainly brought a human element to an otherwise bland story, but I also thought that the lede had me thinking more about poverty and the fact that these gentlemen depend on bottle returns for income, rather than the law itself.

    To be honest, while the funds may help the family to some extent, I think that the argument lack credibility that it would actually make that great of an impact to their lives. If the bottle return law is enacted it is probably more likely that more folks would take the initiative to return their own bottles rather than littering.

    In my opinion while the human element is always extremely important for the story, you cannot force it if it is not intrinsically linked to your story. I think he author should have included the story, but not led with it.

  4. I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about this lede- I was interested but the story took a different take than I had been expecting. I feel that the article couldn’t help but be a little biased, which is fine, but it kind of threw me off for this particular article. Bringing in a real story is helpful, but the way it was presented seemed to be, as earlier said, one-sided, and both stories weren’t accurately represented in my opinion.

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