DEQ not sure better cleanup of Gelman dioxane plume is warranted

This article is mainly a report of town hall meeting in Ann Arbor about dioxane contamination. It is very comprehensive since it shows many concerns from residents, city and county officials and the responses of DEQ officials to these concerns. However, one big problem of this article is that it does not have a nut graph. It has an extensive discussion about why DEQ is not taking any action to fight for a better cleanup of the dioxane, but it does not show why people should care about this issue. Moreover, although it includes many discussions about the issue, the content of the article is not well organized. It has many peoples’ perspectives but these perspectives are loosely connected. Besides, this article does not include much data to show the seriousness of dioxane contamination in Ann Arbor. Do you think the reason of this is that DEQ still need to collect more data? Moreover, the article does not contain any background information about the dioxane pollution in Ann Arbor. Does this affect the readability of the article?


8 Responses to “DEQ not sure better cleanup of Gelman dioxane plume is warranted”

  1. I completely agree with Tianchen when he says that this article contains many perspectives that are “loosely connected” and fail to tell a good story that the reader can follow and relate to. I find that this article has really disappointing kicker, merely telling Ann Arbor residents to sign a petition. I cant see this closing statement helping much when the article failed to give a clear outline of the issue, the background of the issue, and why a reader should care.

    I like that the article has some really nice pictures paired with quotes at the top and towards the middle includes a related video. It seems like this writer had many resources and I think the photos especially strengthen the quality of the article. With an abundance of resources and sources to quote, possibly the major flaw in this article is including the voices of too many people involved in the issue, ultimately neglecting the big picture of how to get this pollution cleaned up.

  2. Overall, I thought this was an interesting and newsy article, but the length of it and lack of organization and explanation in parts was confusing and detracted from the readability of it. There was no background information provided about the Gelman Sciences’ pollution, how it happened, and the history of it, making this article a little confusing to people who aren’t residents of Washtenaw County or who haven’t heard about this issue.

    I agree with you that this article wasn’t organized very well, and the opinions and quotes of the different sides could be confusing. Something I noticed is that there were many quotes from the DEQ essentially saying the same thing– that Michigan was better than other states in dealing with this, that the DEQ needed to collect more data, and that they can’t be sure of the scope of this now, but that they are committed to protecting the health of Michigan’s residents. Personally, I didn’t think many of these quotes were actually very interesting to read. I think some of them could have been paraphrased, especially because there were many quotes essentially saying the same thing, and I don’t think using a quote instead of just paraphrasing the information added any extra value.

    I agree with you that there wasn’t really a nut graph to this article, and though it mentioned many times that dioxane can lead to a public health issue, it doesn’t explain what actually happens, and the health effects of it. This combined with a lack of information about this issue nationwide and the scope of it and its implications leads readers to not really understand why they should care, especially if they’re not from Washtenaw County.

  3. One of the major problems associated with this article is just the sheer volume of material, mostly quotes, included. I felt like the article was dragging on into more of an opinion piece than a fact-based article. I agree with Tianchen that more statistics would be beneficial in this article. I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to gain from the article, except a more expansive knowledge of what the dioxane plume is and what the future of it is. A nut graph certainly would have helped if the author had any specific goals for us as readers. Perhaps the author didn’t, which is why there wasn’t much of a nut graph. I don’t think that the issue lies in the DEQ’s lack of data, but rather in the lack of a meaningful presentation of that data in this specific article. There is a ton of information and collective knowledge about this dioxane plume, and I’m not sure that was conveyed adequately in this article.

  4. I agree that the article lacked a nut graph, which really decreased the effectiveness of the piece. Stanton writes in a way that is not influencing others in the community to care about dioxane plumes – only those involved.

    Due to the lack of background information, it is easy to be uninformed on the topic. I’m sure that many Ann Arbor residents are aware of the problem, but they might not know the extent of its effect. Also, if it spreads to neighboring areas, other residents will definitely be less informed and the article does not help inform the reader or figure out why this is a bad problem.

    From what I’ve seen during my years of following the news is that the government does not usually want to make a statement unless they have confirmed the facts over and over. Because there might not be enough research on the dioxane plumes, the DEQ’s lack of information inhibits readers to understand the problem. There might not be enough data, but they could help by providing what they know. However, this is the problem of sources in the media: sometimes they’re useful, sometimes they’re not.

  5. I completely agree that this article was flawed from the beginning in not explaining what the Gelman Dioxane Plume is, what it’s effects are, and why it matters. I found it difficult to be interested in the rest of the story, even though I knew it was dealing with harmful environmental impacts, which is something I care about.

    Additionally, the author clearly did speak to a lot of people and try to obtain varying perspectives, but instead, many people repeated the same principal ideas. While this could have been an extremely important story, I think the readability of the article fell flat.

    My one varying viewpoint from a previous comment is that I think the idea of ending with a kicker asking for residents to sign a petition is not a bad idea at all. It can give readers the opportunity to engage with the news. However, I think in this instance, the lack of background information on dioxane for the general public would lead some readers to not even make it to the end of the story.

  6. I agree with many of the criticisms you raised Tianchen. The author of the piece doesn’t really go into any of the health effects of dioxane, the timeline of the pollution, whether it’s already affected Ann Arbor residents. I think if someone had just read this article without any prior knowledge of dioxane, they would find it difficult to care. Additionally, the article didn’t have a particularly compelling lede; it just jumped into the particulars of the politics behind dioxane regulation. The article also didn’t explain a lot of terms such as “pump and dump” or the advantages and disadvantages of different regulatory models or timeframes. At times, the piece just felt more like a rout retelling of a City Council meeting rather than a news story. This really affected the readability of the article; I found it hard to stay focused when the majority of the article felt like jargon. I do wonder how much some of this matters since MLive is a much more locally focused paper than, say, The New York Times so maybe the newspaper’s target audience comes with much more background knowledge.

  7. I agree that the lack of a nut graph made the article feel less engaging and relevant. I often felt overwhelmed by the information in the article because it was presented without concern to audience interest or attention. I also thought that the length contributed to a disengaging article. There was a lot of information covered about the politics and science of the Gelman dioxane plume, but I felt that it was hard to follow along from the organization and excessive material. I, however, thought that the quotes were a good break from the disconnecting news material.

    Despite the article lacking in engaging and interesting presentation of information, I felt connected to the article because of its proximity and the familiarity of some locations. I like how the authors made comparisons to other environmental and social injustices. Despite the separation of concern from the organization and length, I felt sympathetic to the article because of the connections presented.

  8. I agree with Tianchen; I think there were many problems with this article that affected its readability. The title is completely full of jargon that someone who knows nothing about dioxane, the Department of Environmental Quality, or what Gelman is is not likely to click on. Already, the article is only geared towards individuals with some background and context. Tianchen was right, there’s no nut graph that can tell me what I want to know about these topics in order to consume the rest. It’s also a very long article, which discourages people from reading all the way through. I do think it’s broken up well by multimedia, such as the video and links to related articles for this context that was missing from the article itself.

    Also, for an article that is really not saying much—essentially, that no one is sure exactly what to do yet and that the status quo will be maintained until more time is taken to gather information and consider the circumstances—it’s way too long. Nothing about this struck me as particularly “newsy.”

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