Reporting on Hurricane Matthew to Open Up Conversation about Rising Sea Levels

Student Choice Article Here

I chose this article because Hurricane Matthew is a huge event in our country that affects many of us and I think its important to analyze how a big platform like National Geographic is reporting on the issue.  Its true that this could be a mementos time in history to open up conversation about rising sea levels around Florida so I think its important to address whether the journalism is effectively influencing people to do this.

Do you think that this article is going to influence people who aren’t already concerned with rising sea levels?  Will this article effectively open up conversation between people who do not live near Florida or the coastline?

I noticed that most quoted sources were from Florida.  Did it help or hurt the scope of audience for the article to use sources mainly from Florida?

Do you feel like the title is clear? Do you feel like it is biased and leads to a narrow group of people who will actually click to read?

Do the headings between sections do a good job of organizing the main points in the article?

Lastly, National Geographic includes several pictures in this article.  These pictures are well edited and quite moving.  Do these pictures assist in portraying the message of the article?  There are many news outlets that do not have the means to provide such well done visual supplements to their articles.  Feel free to comment on this situation considering that some types of people are more influenced by visual representations of what they are reading about.



10 Responses to “Reporting on Hurricane Matthew to Open Up Conversation about Rising Sea Levels”

  1. This article was well-written covering impacts that Floridians face in terms of the hurricane and prospected sea-level rise; however, it might be difficult for other states to be able to relate or be interested by the article or those not concerned with rising sea levels because it lacks the “nut-graph” element which ties the importance and relevance of the piece. While there are facts about the general effects of rising sea levels (increased land erosion, etc), the article didn’t make it clear that this phenomenon is possible on all coastal lands. Furthermore, while some impacts such as the loss of land and damage to the economy (real estate, decreasing population, etc) will affect the country as a whole, coastal land or not, the article failed to tie in these effects to the future of all residents versus strictly those on coastal lands.

    It helped to use quotes from Floridians to personalize the effects such as the anecdote about the loss of lands where a young man used to play baseball (video). Also, there were statements made by the Dutch experts which made it connect to the world in terms of involvement, maybe not influence-wise.

    The title is clear, yet does not mention how most of the outcomes of the hurricane affect Florida and the Carolinas. Perhaps the author wanted people to make the connection on their own in terms of applying the negative impacts to the country and world as a whole. I don’t think it’s biased since multiple stimulations confirm sea level rises and the “new normal” sparks interest because people are not inclined to change and the title proposes that society needs to.

    Also, the sub-headings were helpful because it framed the sections. However, the last sub-heading: “Planning for Disaster” was a little mis-leading because there is not concrete planning that is occurring due to people’s tendency to avert preparation without tangible consequences.

  2. I thought this was a very thought-provoking article. One thing that I’d been wondering over the past week is that, if this hurricane is as bad as many news outlets were urging, how come it seemed like nobody was really talking about it? It seemed to me that the ‘story’ was that people weren’t making a big enough deal about the magnitude of Matthew. But, if we’re all just desensitized to the devastation we have wreaked on our environment and, in turn, the havoc it has wreaked on us, it makes sense that people just weren’t grasping the severity of the situation on Friday.

    Therefore, I thought this article did a great job of placing a topical news story in context of the wider environmental issue. Because ‘climate change’ seems so huge and gradual, the public seems to need a reminder that symptoms like Matthew are just that—symptoms.

  3. Often, I enjoy reading National Geographic articles, but I do admit they fall short when trying to address breaking news. The problem with natural disasters is that they are focused regionally. While I am super updated on the news with Hurricane Matthew, its difficult to be concerned and focused on it when you’re not in an affected area. And I’m sure a lot of people across the country feel this way. Especially in the media, the hurricane is being sensationalized and it will be unlikely to open up conversation nationally or internationally.

    I think using sources from Florida was helpful, because they are the most affected other than the islands near the US. I like that they brought up the lack of attention towards climate change in Florida’s government, however, I think they were a little too critical in the text towards Rick Scott and Marco Rubio. Again, I think the sources being from Florida also just goes back to the issue of not expanding the scope nationally.

    In terms of the title, I think it is a bit extreme. The title talks about a “new normal”, yet they only spend a few paragraphs talking about this new normal instead of the majority of the text. The headings I do believe were helpful, though.

    As for the pictures, I read a study in class the other day about photos of natural disasters used in journalism. Based off of their evidence, photos of natural disasters do not effectively sway opinion unless they are also shown with positive photos (ex. adaptation tactics to prevent flooding or negative effects)

  4. I think that this was a very well-written and informative article that has the potential to sway people into believing that sea levels truly are rising. I do agree that it focused a little too much on just the impact on Florida, which I do feel like excludes some people from this conversation.

    I think that it was important to include how this phenomenon hasn’t been widely accepted as a national conversation due to state and local governments’ denial of climate change and rising sea levels. However, I think the article could have gone a little bit more into the opposing side, and shared why these politicians are choosing to not believe in climate change, because it would have made the article less biased. The author chose to include how in North Carolina, “legislators ‘outlawed’ efforts to study the impact of sea-level rise on the ribbon of barrier islands known as the Outer Banks,” but didn’t explain this bit of information any further, leaving me with more questions about the reasonings behind this decision.

    I think the article did a great job ending the piece in a way that was thought-provoking for the reader and encourages action. Ending with a powerful quote about how people are not willing to do preventative work to lessen the impact of floods, and only are willing to put in work after the flood occurs, ties the ending of the article back to the lead, which emphasizes how Matthew must be a wake up call.

  5. I thought the relevance and outreach of this article was great, not just because of the devastating hurricane, but also because it was able to tie in the concurrent election cycle that is promoting different political agendas around natural disasters and climate change. In addition to being informative and proactive about the effects of Hurricane Matthew, this article was able to provoke thought and reflection of how political leaders and candidates are contributing to this climate change conversation. I think, in this sense, it is important to focus on the perspectives and opinions of the people affected by the hurricane in one of its most devastating areas, as well as the interesting political climate in the effected area as well.

    The title, although vaguely capturing all topics of the article, contributes to the serious and challenging tone of the article. The headlines, I thought, did an adequate job of guiding the various arguments and topics in the article.

    I also think that the author consciously included the images to further perpetuate the tone of the article. The story narrated by the visual aspect of article complemented the written arguments. To help portray the devastation of Hurricane Matthew, the images can reveal or support the impact of the Hurricane to those outside of the affected audience.

  6. I felt like the article was succinct and did a good job of communicating clearly and getting across the desired point. The headings broke up the article nicely, and provided a clear divisions between the more environmental science focused first half of the article and the second half of the article which focused more on the impact of rising sea levels on a more human and community level.
    In my opinion, one of the most impactful parts of the article was the included video. In terms of generating sympathy for people effected by rising sea levels and putting a human face on this important environmental issue, I think the video did an excellent job. However, the clip was focused on islands in Canada, so didn’t provide much of a connection to the Florida focus that the rest of the article had. Maybe, to generate more widespread understanding of how many different types of communities are effected by rising sea levels someone could write and article describing or surveying all the different types of communities effected.

  7. This article does a good job of discussing climate change and rising sea levels by using the current news of Hurricane Matthew. The article briefly discusses the struggle to get local and state governments to address climate change. I think it would have been interesting to provide more details about this idea. The article talks about how Hurricane Matthew might make people pay more attention to the perils of rising seas. A lot of work to address these issues has to be done through government initiatives so it would definitely be useful for the article to provide more explanation about the struggle to get climate change addressed in local government. The article also briefly mentions the difficulty involved in getting climate change initiatives financed. Additional information in regards to this topic would have been useful and interesting. The article talks about getting people to realize the importance of rising sea levels but could be more informative about the struggle to get initiatives actualized.

  8. This article about Hurricane Matthew was well written, however was not very effective in creating a relatable “big picture” for the audience. Most of the first half of the article was talking about Hurricane Matthew and its impact on Florida’s coastal region. This section also included some aspects of climate change, however the focus was really on Florida. Doing this definitely informed the audience about Florida’s current situation, but did not provide a relatable platform for a large audience to relate to. Much of the article was focused on coastal regions and made it hard for people from non-coastal regions to care about the issue at hand. Including the impact of rising sea levels for land-locked regions would have strengthened the argument and allowed for more readers to connect with the issue being expressed.

  9. I think this article about Hurricane Matthew and rising sea levels was very well written and very informative. A problem that this article faces is that it focuses on a very localized event, an event that most people wouldn’t consider much of a national tragedy. Unlike Katrina this hurricane doesn’t really have the lasting effect that will make people outside of the Southeastern US care. I also noted that this article singles out Republican politicians for their denying of climate change. This targeting of politicians leans towards the accusatory and in my honest opinion is not something that will help open a dialogue with supporters of the party, the party that most needs a helpful dialogue to understand the pressing issue of climate change. By targeting the politicians Republicans support, it closes off their minds to the ideas of the article and instead lengthens the divide between them and what they likely see as liberal scientists.

    Furthermore, I don’t think the article adds anything to the dialogue about rising sea levels that hasn’t already been said countless times in nationwide media. It does however transition some of the dialogue from “hurricanes will get worse” to “hurricanes are getting worse”, an important distinction that may have an effect on some people.

  10. I found the organization of the article to be unspectacular but serviceable. The headlines easily break the piece into three distinct sections and allow for the author to easily pivot between different topics without confusing the reader. Are these headings dramatically altering the dramatic flow of the piece? No, but they help organize the piece. If the author were making a more complex argument then the headings could have really been helpful but the piece is simple enough that they don’t really elevate the piece. I had similar feeling about the title. It describes long term changes in hurricanes which I don’t think people really doubt are happening. Maybe if the title were directly linked to climate change then there could be a self-selection effect but I don’t think that’s happening here.

    I don’t think that the pictures show any sort of exceptional devastation which the article discusses. Certainly the images are well shot but they just look like a bad storm rather than a harbinger of a new era of hurricane destruction. Perhaps older pictures of the damage that Hurricane Sandy did would have been more effective.

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