“Waste Matters: The State of Michigan’s Trash”

This article was a pretty in-depth analysis of many facets of the waste issue in Michigan, reflecting a trajectory for US as a whole. The lede was engaging and effective in establishing a visual of the landfill environment, and serves as a specific example of the waste topic that an then be broadened analyzed on a larger scale. One thing that confused me was that Terry Nichols was not identified as a source until his second mention later in the story. I understand that it flows better stylistically, but the reader has no idea who he is or why we should care what he thinks of ‘flying rats.’

A lot of paragraphs were very statistics-heavy, but for the most part the numbers were dispersed and discussed enough that they didn’t run together into a mass of dry data. There use of analogy and comparisons was effective in visualizing the true scale to readers, and I think the illustrated pull-quotes were a good way to highlight particularly relevant numbers and observations since they break up the text and can be seen even if someone is just skimming through the article.

At times it was hard to keep track of who was who in each section, since there were so many sources in each; however the writer did a good job of following up source opinions with opposing views, such that it felt like the sources were interacting and commenting on statements made about the topic. I also felt like the section headings were creative, but didn’t really give a clear idea of what the sections was about/its relevance to the overall article. They could have benefited from more specific wording, or a short summary deck to help the flow of the story into the next section.

I felt that there could have been more representation from the Canadian side of things in the section about importing trash and exporting hazardous materials, since the impact of their interactions with Michigan was so emphasized. I was also left with some questions about the estimates that we have about 24 years of landfill space left until we have reached capacity. For such a bold statistic, it was waved away a little flippantly by the opinion of one source, and the commentary on this aspect of the waste issue seemed unbalanced. Even by the representative’s logic, if we can succeed in extending landfill capacity to closer to 50 years, how is that a solution? Merely putting off the problem for a later generation to handle hardly seems like a sustainable mindset. What aspects of the story did you feel could have been addressed more thoroughly/differently?

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3 Responses to ““Waste Matters: The State of Michigan’s Trash””

  1. I thought this article was full of information and statistics. I think it was interesting to see reporting of landfills from a not-so-negative perspective. I’m not sure if it was the formatting of the piece or not, but the piece did not seemed very focused, it could have been more concise. It was hard to draw out what the underlying take away of the article was supposed to be. It was however, enlightening to the goings-on of landfills, other such recycling efforts. However, I think this article may have been a case of having “too much evidence”. It was starting to read like a research paper rather than a news article. I think I would need to read it a few times to grasp all the statistics that were placed in the piece. So, informative and interesting, but rather long-winded.

  2. As you mentioned, for such a statistic-heavy piece, the analogies and illustrations accompanying the statistics where very helpful, and was an effective way for getting me to visualize some facts represented in the numbers. I also like how he focused on issues in MI but addressed how these issues extend beyond the state of Michigan and even exploring issues in Canada.
    I liked how the piece was fragmented into sections, as it helped me keep the facts and statistics straight as well as information from key sources, since there were so many.The author does a good job of setting up what the realities of landfills are today, the issues surrounding them, etc. However, I think there could be some rearranging of information that would make the piece flow better. In the “Waste Not” section he talks about the biggest problem with landfills, that is wasting resources that could be recycled and processed into usable products if handled correctly. Given that one of the sources said that it’s the biggest problem, I think the story could have focused more on this, and introduced statistics and information about landfills in relation to this issue. If this big problem was mentioned in the beginning of the piece, I think it could make for a better-flowing and more attention-grabbing piece.

  3. I must agree with Carlea: read more like a research paper than a news article. Toning down on the statistics would definitely have helped the readability of the piece.

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