Home > Uncategorized > Analysis 1: Business and Explanatory Journalism

Analysis 1: Business and Explanatory Journalism


Article 1: Couples Cull Embryos to Halt Heritage of Cancer (New York Times)
The lead: This article by Amy Harmon begins focused on the story of one particular family who used preimplantation genetic diagnosis before conceiving a child. The lead uses points of both intrigue and human interest to draw the reader in: “the thought that has flashed through his mind a million times in her two years of life comes again: Chloe will never be sick.” This introduces the story by teasing with the main idea of children genetically tailored to avoid disease while still drawing in the reader by remaining ambiguous, causing the reader to ask why and want to read on for specifics. The next paragraph goes on to explain that the family used genetic testing and goes into detail about that particular story. By choosing to focus in on one family at the start of the article, Harmon draws in the reader by giving a single relatable element, a specific parent concerned for their child.
The body: The article transitions smoothly from the initial specific anecdote to a more general explanation of a growing trend in genetic testing. The writer interweaves several more specific examples as she continues to expand on the scientific details and advances. The piece also explores both the pros and cons of such a controversial advancement in genetics.
Final assessment: A large part of what made this piece so strong is the inclusion of real families amongst the medical information. This made it an incredibly humanizing and thought provoking piece, as it drove home the point that this effects people and could potential effect the reader if the practice becomes more widespread. It gave the reader a purpose to reading the article.

Article 2: Families in agony on when to let go (Philadelphia Inquirer)
The lead: In this article, Michael Vitez does not dive directly into the controversial topic of life support; rather than address the main idea of the article even vaguely, he focuses on telling the human interest aspect and setting up the background to the story of a specific family that he uses throughout the story. Descriptive imagery is effectively used to play on the emotions and sympathy of the reader. This creates emotional investment, making the questions asked in the piece (“should they tell the doctors to let him die?”) more powerful since the reader is already concerned for this family.
The body: The article uses a good balance of numbers and hard facts in addition to playing on the emotional aspects of the issue. These details give context and generalize enough to remind the reader that this is a prevalent topic. The article switches back and forth from anecdote to generalized fact, which provides a good contrast between the medical and the emotional in a thought provoking way.
Final assessment: This piece is a good example of explanatory journalism because it uses real situations in depth to make the information easily accessible to the reader, allowing the reader to form their own opinion of the issue at hand.

Article 3: Quick Death Slow Spread (Newsday)
The lead: This article on the Ebola virus epidemic in Zaire starts bluntly, giving a quick run down of exactly what the article says and following a more hard news style of reporting in explaining what and why. While the past two articles have tried to draw the reader in with intrigue, this is more appropriate for a story focused on a deadly disease as it reflects a sense of urgency and a need to immediately quell any panic.
The body: As the article moves forward, the details are fleshed out and carefully, thoroughly explained. Whereas the other articles looked at relied heavily on the common, human interest aspect of the story, this necessary relies more on hard facts from professional resources in order to get the message across to the general public. The purpose of this article is less to provoke thought and open the audience to an issue and more to inform. The body of the article is fairly short and to the point, revealing necessary information and relevant background, in order to enhance the information rather than to emotionally provoke. The single word sentences at the end are especially effective.
Final assessment: This article explains information so well because it puts it in a format with less fuss and detail. There was a very good editing of unnecessary writing that suited the piece.

Article 4: In Alaska, Nature Under Siege. (New York Times)
The lead: This editorial opens with a blunt statement of the opinion: “Every state in the union will suffer in one way or another from the Republicans’ relentless effort to undermine 25 years of legislation designed to protect the environment.” By clearly stating this, the author is going to provoke some sort of reaction in the reader, whether is negative, in agreement, or simply curious, he’s already drawn the attention. In addition to this blunt statement, he provides a bare bones reasoning for why he thinks this, effectively setting up for the rest of the article.
The body: The editorial sets up the argument really well by integrating background information, which insures that it stays factual, with the argument. He explains the other side in context of political background, then counteracts it, so the audience understands better the logic, making it easier to persuade.
Final assessment: This editorial has a better chance of persuasiveness because it does a good job of explaining the situation surrounding the argument, using numbers, dates, and political history to it’s advantage.

Article 5: Fixing the Death Penalty (Chicago Tribune)
The lead: The editorial starts with clearly stating the issue and clearly stating the position of the author. It is vague enough for the reader to want to continue for details on these “wrongful convictions” and “arbitrarily applied punishments.”
The body: This editorial uses contrast and repitition effectively. In the third paragraph, the justice and injustice flip creates an image of how grave of a problem this is. The repetition of these sentences in the last paragraph places an extra emphasis and drives focus to the point of the piece.

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