Hunt for Dioxane in Ann Arbor’s West Park Begins

This MLive article discusses the search for traces of the local dioxane plume in the West Park area of Ann Arbor. It provides a fairly substantial amount of detail about what’s being done in that area, but is lacking a major component. This article simply does not have a nut graph and offers no explanation as to why the reader should care about the issue. It does not discuss what 1,4-dioxane is and why it’s a health issue to the citizens of Ann Arbor, nor does it provide sufficient background on the issue. If this article was to be the first thing someone read about the Ann Arbor dioxane plume they wouldn’t feel as if they understand why it’s an issue. Furthermore, the story lacks any form of an edge. The quotes used don’t evoke much emotion and there’s not really any debate over the issue.

In your opinions, what do you think should have been done to draw readers in? Are there any ways in which you could see this issue as being divisive? Do you think this article did a good job in reporting the facts?



7 Responses to “Hunt for Dioxane in Ann Arbor’s West Park Begins”

  1. I agree with Dylan with the opinion that the article lacks a nut graf because it doesn’t offer any information about the impact of the dioxane to residents in Ann Arbor nor to those that aren’t affiliated with the local area. Stanton should have stated some of the health effects of dioxane exposure to engage readers’ interest so the audience recognizes the importance of the investigation of dioxane in groundwater.

    Also, there were limited sides in the story. There weren’t any disagreeing parties in the article. Stanton could have included perspectives from those that oppose sampling, those that don’t view dioxane as an issue, or the cause(s) of dioxane accumulation in water. The article reported the facts clearly; however, it is hard for readers to gauge the significance of the topic since it fails to provide the impact of dioxane exposure. Stanton hints at possible consequences when he paraphrases Pratt about the contamination of drinking water sources, but he should have explicitly said the anticipated effects of dioxane on public health and the environment to understand the occurrence of these water investigations.

  2. This article, although informative about dioxane testing in West Park, does not provide a sense of urgency or importance to the audience. Throughout the article, there was great description of how samples of dioxane were being obtained and how they were going to be examined. However, its relevance to public health and its importance today was lacking. The audience is not able to relate to this article and therefore cannot connect with the information being provided.
    Also, the quotes that are used in this article don’t really express any emotion or personal flare that make them stand out. They’re not “punchy”. It may have been better if Lawson was asked about her experience with people who don’t know about dioxane pollution and if she feels the general public is well informed on this matter.

  3. First, I think the lede could be strengthened in this article. I think Stanton could have drawn the reader in by starting with a detailed description of the DEQ collecting groundwater samples at West Park. This is an task most readers wouldn’t be very familiar with, so describing that scene in detail would bring this news to life for the reader.

    I also agree with my classmates that this article lacks a clear nut graph. After reading this article, I do not fully understand the dangers dioxane poses to environmental and human health. However, I would guess it was not Stanton’s intention to leave readers in the dark. Stories about the dioxane plume in Ann Arbor had been published in MLive for months before this piece was published. I would venture to guess that Stanton assumed that most of his audience had already read about the dioxane plume, so his mission was simply to provide an update rather than rehash the entire issue.

    This brings up an interesting question, though. When writing articles like this that provide new information about a topic that is frequently in the news, should each new article provide an overview of the subject area? It seems to me that this would get to be very repetitive for loyal readers. But can a journalist really assume prior knowledge on an issue like this?

  4. I completely agree that the article does not include any information on what Dioxane is and why people should be concerned with its spread. This may leave readers more confused than informed after reading this article. However, since this seems to be an ongoing issue in Ann Arbor, and MLive is a publication that covers Michigan, this topic could have already collected an readership who is informed about the issue and does not need a complete backstory. Including a link to another MLive article explaining the origin of the problem and why people should care about it would do a good job bridging this information gap for new readers, without boring old readers. This is similar to @gabbygaeta‘s point about constantly giving backstory for articles.

    This article did do a good job reporting on the topic and consulting multiple sources to make sure that they had enough information. I like how in the kicker he included a different perspective than the ones he reported on in the article. This made me want to further explore this topic and understand these various theories on the Dioxane plume.

  5. I’ve actually used mlive a few times to look up important things happening in the Michigan area, and they always seem to be a bit off with their presentation of information. They seem to write towards people who already have a back story and interest in the information, and ignore those that may just have a locals interest.

    This article didn’t seem very “newsy”, and there was very little facts other than promises to have more news at a later date. As other commenters has said, there’s no sense of emergency or urgency instilled in the reader, and I have no idea what Dioxane is after reading this.

    I think it was a good article, and perhaps doesn’t deserve quite as many of the negative things it got from Dylan! The photos are pretty good, there’s a lot of different view points, and the graphics are useful.

  6. Similar to everyone else, I agree that the lede and nut graph could be much stronger, and that the reader likely needs more information overall on what dioxane is. Towards the bottom of the article there was a link to another article about dioxane in Ann Arbor, which similarly lacked an explanation of what exactly dioxane is. It seems as if this is a topic that Mlive had been covering for a while, so maybe it would be helpful to have a dioxane homepage that is linked at the top of the article, where readers could go to see a collection of all of Mlive’s dioxane coverage. I think it’s quite possible that they already did an article explaining more about dioxane, but that it’s just gotten lost over the years.

    Aside from that, I think the article is quite thorough and does a good job of quoting multiple sources with different perspectives. For the audience of Ann Arbor citizens the article is for, I think it provides an adequate update on the dioxane situation.

  7. While reading this article, not only did I think that it was lacking some background information and a nut graph, but I questioned how important this topic was. I felt that this issue in Ann Arbor could have been presented better after getting back the results from the search. The article seemed to hype up the idea of trying to find the dioxane, but later shares that there isn’t enough evidence to show that it is a pressing issue, or even exists. I question if this acts as a way to try and get the public engaged and informed in something unknown that is going on in the community, or creating an unnecessary scare with the lack of evidence.

    Although there is not a nut graph, there is a decent scene depicted in the beginning that is enhanced by the slideshow of pictures of people collecting samples. The writer could have done a better job in tying the relevance of these samples being taken and the larger picture.

    Also, I felt like hydrogeologist source that was used at the end was sort of thrown in there. I think it would have been better to either expand on this source or to not use it in the article.

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