When the Old is Made New

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In Golden Gate Park layoffs, Kelly M. House uses the lonely scene of an emptying park to show readers one effect of our country's financial crisis.

"The whole park's problem is sort of a symptom.  California is broke right now, the city is in trouble, there's probably going to be belt tightening everywhere." 

This quote says plainly what House was trying to get across to readers.  The park had been forced to freeze hiring, adding to the workload of its employees.  Here House paints a picture of what could be forced onto the sacrificial altar created by money problems. 

Though House finishes with an inspiring quote by an employee stating "the parks will survive," her whole article paints a dire picture for not only these areas, but the state as well.  The quote comes off as a either determined optimism or a desperate mantra.  And, considering the overlying theme, it kind of works.

 

In the article, Ethanol Indy Cars by Matthew Baker, Baker takes the choice of one driver to switch to ethanol fuel, and works that into a theme that is roughly: our natural resources are depleting and people should be more responsible.  Baker draws a wider audience by not focusing on the tired issue of pollution, but by mentioning Indy cars instead.  He also has an interesting lead, that seems to contradict itself and invites the reader to keep reading for explanation.  Although Baker's topic is not news even in the greatest stretch of the imagination, it still seems like news, because something small, not really newsworthy happened, and he found a connection.

To find out more about the structure of these articles, read Greta's entry.

Jennifer also discusses the technique of using specfic stories to cover "bigger pictures."

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4 Comments

Greta Carroll said:

I like how you point out that, “Baker's topic is not news even in the greatest stretch of the imagination, it still seems like news.” Neither of these spot news articles is really about breaking news. Probably, the reader has already heard about California’s budget problems and alternative fuel sources from some other article or source. However, these stories manage to seem like they are important and the news. They focus on both emotion (through concentrating on specific people) and on the issue as a whole, thereby attracting and interesting both local and non-local readers.

Josie Rush said:

You're right about the local and non-local readers, Greta. I think that's made all the more impressive by the fact (as we've mentioned before), this isn't exactly *news* in the sense we've come to think of it. Still, it will attract a variety of readers.

Jennifer Prex said:

You're right. The issue of pollution has been around for so long now that people wouldn't be interested in an article if it was just about pollution. By using this race car angle, it's a way of getting the same idea across but attracting more readers in the process.

Josie Rush said:

I wonder if these journalists came in with the hope of writing about pollution or budget problems, and just found a smaller story to suit their needs, or if it worked the other way around. This would be a creative way to talk about important, broader issues that have been covered, and keep the reader interested enough to put a new spin on it. I admit, as soon as pollution was mentioned in the indy car article, I began to zone out, but there was a smaller story that needed resolved, so I hung in there. By the end, the point wasn't "you should convert to different energy sources," but "soon you'll have to anyway." That's a little different than the didactic sort of articles that these usually are. I was pleasanlty surprised by the ending.

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