Dakota Pipeline Protesters Erect Teepees Outside Trump Hotel

In the Huffington Post Article, “Native Americans Bring Dakota Pipeline Protest to Trump’s Doorstep,” the author reports on the Native Nations March, a four day march that culminated on Friday, that was organized in response to the President’s advancement of the pipeline and to stand for native sovereignty.

The story features interviews of a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana, a member of Nebraska’s Omaha tribe, and a supporter of Native American advocacy group. Overall, I appreciated how the author incorporated multimedia into the story, with videos, action photos, and live tweets. In my opinion, this added depth to the story, enabling readers to get a real sense of the emotion and anger of the protesters.

Still, there were some areas in which I think the article was lacking, such as in contextualizing the protest. For example, the details of the pipeline, such as the cost and location ($3.8 billion and 1,172 miles), were not given until just before the kicker. Why do you think the author made this decision in structure?  How do you think a story covering about a protest may be written differently from other events or topics that may be covered? While the article included quotes from protesters and Donald Trump, there were no quotes from politicians who may have attended. What other sources would you have liked to see included?


12 Responses to “Dakota Pipeline Protesters Erect Teepees Outside Trump Hotel”

  1. I agree that the author does a good job in showing the severity of the issue and how the United States has consistently failed to respect the sovereignty and honor previous treaties made with indigenous people.I think the article primarily tries to stress the reversal of Obama’s decisions to halt the pipe line and lack of consistency showed by the federal government towards environmental issues. I agree that the article could use more statistics to better show the scope of the issue and better support the claim. I definitely think incorporating more statements from legislatures would do a better job to expand on the political dynamic of this issue. The author could also better support the marginalization argument by talking about how the pipeline was actually re-routed from its original course due to concerns from other nearby communities. Overall, I liked the article and the usage of multimedia in order to really drive home way this executive decisions hurts indigenous people.

  2. I didn’t mind that the author left the details of the pipeline until the end. This article is not about the pipeline, it’s about the people. This article is coming so long after the initial protests that it’s simply ignorance if you don’t know about it (which is why I like that the author gives small details). We don’t need every article that mentions the DAPL to give us the background – that would be boring and I’d never read another article about it again if that were the case.

    In terms of other sources, the author did include the video of Bernie Sanders. And honestly, if his quotes are correct, Trump is an even bigger idiot than I thought (but we’ll save that discussion for another day). I don’t really know what other sources I would have liked to see, though. This article was about the Native Americans, and it did a good job covering them.

    I only have one complaint about the visual aspect of this article. The article finished with a kicker and then showed a picture with nothing to focus on and no real impact to the reader. It would have been better to just leave the picture out than to include one so uninteresting.

    • I completely agree. The article isn’t about the pipeline, it’s about the social movement by the people against the Trump administration. Everything in the article highlighted this: the multimedia showing activism on the ground, marginalized peoples (i.e. indigenous leaders) leading the privileged, the particular politicians (e.g. Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard) siding with the movement, the antagonism toward the Army and the Trump administration. The kicker expresses this very clearly by describing the movement as a revolution, a time to “wake up” and “make change in the world.”

      I’m still trying to wrap my head around the role of “objectivity” in journalism. I’m a firm believer that journalism should “acknowledge both sides.” However, I always think back to what one of my political science instructors said in class: “Just because something is biased, does it make it any less true?” No matter what “side” you’re looking at, it is important to analyze what is being omitted and what are the “facts.” To have to stick yourself in the middle of two sides isn’t always appropriate. Also, data and research can only illustrate so much of a story, and not everyone can understand its significance. There is a place for personal stories and descriptions, but it can’t stand alone.

      The article definitely displays a single “side,” and it isn’t perfect, but I don’t think it’s a bad article in the slightest.

  3. I agree that the details of the pipeline could have been moved way up in the article. That paragraph would have made an effective nut graph and could have followed the quote by Kingfisher. Also, I think the article could have used more quotes. There were not comments by public officials besides President Trump. However, the quote from Trump was not directly relating to the protest the article is referring to, but was from a month prior. I wonder if political officials were unwilling to comment or why else there would not be quotes from them. Similar to Manny, I liked the use of multimedia and Tweets to enhance the content of the article. The kicker was effective and compelling as a call to action.

  4. Good morning everyone! I look forward to meeting all of you in class on Thursday to discuss the politics of environmental decision-making. Let me preface my comments by sharing that my profession is in government relations, not journalism, and as such I am likely the least educated person on this forum when it comes to the tenets of article structure, etc. That said, I’d like to provide a couple of initial comments to lay some foundational concepts for our discussion.

    As the role of citizen journalism continues to become more prevalent, the lines between an “article” and “editorial” seem to continue converging. To provide some perspective, as someone who is not in the profession, I would consider the bright line to be whether the intent is to provide information or a persuasive argument.

    I raise this observation partially due to the comments posted so far – one commenter comments on the writer’s ability to “support the claim” and the “argument” the writer is making; another comments on a “call to action” in the article. This language suggests implicit appreciation of the persuasive intent of the writer (but feel free to argue otherwise!).

    Assuming you accept the basic premise of my observation, it is worth noting that this trend is not unique to citizen journalism or print media. I would challenge each of you to think of a major news network that provides unbiased coverage without editorializing the event (in contrast, go on YouTube and watch any clip of Walter Cronkite anchoring CBS Evening News).

    Here is my question: in the modern world of journalism, is the convergence of persuasion under the precept of information a precarious trend that should be avoided, or a necessary evolution of media coverage of current events? Does the medium matter (e.g. print vs. television)? Does the subject matter (e.g. environmental policy vs. social policy)? Perhaps most important… is my observation even correct, and, if so, am I asking the right questions?

    • Hi Jason! We’re looking forward to meeting you on Thursday and hearing about your experiences with the Detroit Regional Chamber. Your point on information vs. persuasion is well taken, and one we’ve discussed at length in class.

      I went back through the article to find examples of the author’s bias and attempts at persuasion. Some subtle phrasing that sticks out:
      -“With a combination of rain and snow falling and temperatures in the high 30s” (setting the scene and building sympathy)
      -“Last month, IGNORING months of protest…” (describing Trump)
      -“Seeming to ignore the concerns of Native American groups and environmentalist, Trump stressed that…”

      Even more important is what the author chooses to leave out, as others have mentioned above: quotes from lawmakers/pipeline advocates/those with jobs in the oil industry/etc.

      While the pipeline is something I feel strongly about personally, I tend to believe that journalists should in general not infuse their personal views into their writing, instead presenting the facts of both sides and letting readers make their own informed choices. However, we should consider the platform – Huffington Post, a left-leaning news source. Maybe news outlets should be held to different standards, depending on their stated purposes? If a platform like Reuters commits to impartiality, we as the public should hold them to that, while if a platform like HuffPo takes public stands on issues, we might accept partisan reporting from it, provided it is up-front about its biases.

  5. I agree with Sarah in that this article is mainly about the Native American people and not the actual pipeline itself. The sources provided seem to directly address the story and aid in the underlying purpose of the article, which is to persuade readers to empathize with the Native American protestors and take action to support them. However, I like that the author illustrated that this isn’t just a pipeline issue, but rather a global issue regarding the many marginalized groups of people in different societies. Using quotes to elaborate on how people of privilege need to rise up and provide their resources to those facing oppression. I think providing details on the actual pipeline itself towards the end of the article is a good way to let the reader know where the issue stands now and to what extent. I do agree that the picture at the end is somewhat unnecessary because it doesn’t express a significant emotional purpose like many of the ones before. The video at the very beginning was really cool and the first time I’ve seen something that interactive. The 360 video really captured what it was like to be inside the protest.

  6. I am especially intrigued by the idea of persuasion vs. information commented upon by Jason and Kelly in this case because the author is covering a protest. Madeleine asked how a reporter might cover this story differently than another topic. I think some of this we see in how she sets the scene like Kelly said; for many topics the weather may not be related in any sense to what is being covered but for a protest the weather is inherently a very important variable in many aspects of the protest. It can affect turnout, protester health, and even perception of the event. This leaves the reader to decide whether or not commenting on the dedication of the protesters distorts an author’s attempts to present neutral information, making their tone persuasive. At any point it seems the information provided in an article will do something to persuade a reader as they are hopefully learning something new through what they’ve read. I guess the more important side would be to watch tone in presentation of information and especially when reader’s may be very inexperienced in understanding of the topic presented.

  7. I think the multimedia aspects of this article were the strongest–visualization of protests allows readers to immerse themselves in the action, to feel the energy of a protesting group of people and better understand the context of the event, especially when it involves building teepees on the National Mall in snow and rain. I agree with Anders in that weather becomes inherently more important in reporting on a protest because the severity of it often does demonstrate the passion and emotion and dedication of participants to the cause. Additionally, I agree that providing more of a contextual background to the controversial Dakota Pipeline, besides a few statistics at the end, would have established a better understanding of the event all together.

  8. In contrast to what others have said, I thought the use of photography was well done in this piece. The pictures of the teepee portrayed with the Washington Monument in the background were compelling, showing opposite sides of each issue in one single photograph. Furthermore, it was pleasing to see the Rule of Thirds in action in the various pictures that were published along with the article.

    However, I thought some of the quotes were especially lacking during the beginning of the piece. The quotes from some of the tribe leaders did not carry the necessary weight to convey the true importance of the issue to them. I would have liked the author to probe deeper with his/her subjects in order to unveil the true emotion of these populations who already have lost so much, and stand to lose more as the Trump Administration continues on.

  9. While doing so might distract the readers from focusing on Native Americans’ sentiments about DAPL, I think that including facts about DAPL would introduce another perspective in which it shows that the pipeline has been constructed in other places without us being aware of it.

    Writing an article about protest is similar to writing on other topics because they both involve the journalist focusing on telling the story of the participants on that topic, using the participants’ quotes that would show their stance on the topic. However, the article about a protest can easily become an emotional appeal if it is not balanced with logic. This Huffington Post article balances emotions with logic well with its lede of “You can’t drink oil. Keep it in the soil.” Lastly, even though there is a presence of politician speaking the video, the article can even more be more comprehensive if it includes videos consisted of the statements from the protesters as well as other states’ government reaction to DAPL running through their land.

  10. Hi, everyone. If you find this discussion interesting, please consider applying for this summer fellowship at Politico: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/now-accepting-student-applications-for-2017-summer-session-235614
    Environ 320 students — current and former — please let us know if you’d like a recommendation!

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