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America’s Best Newspaper Writing – Wars, Terrorism and Disasters

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Writing about terrorism, war and disasters is a difficult thing. Not only is it difficult to find a way to portray disastrous information to readers, but it is a difficult, heartbreaking and sometimes dangerous thing to report on. Writing about terrorism, war and disasters requires honest, reliable news. The public depends on the media to be reassured, and the information given to them must instruct the world, encourage people to act and ignite a global search for meaning. Although journalists who report on these disasters may have a hard time stomaching the scenes, the must look, and not look away.

As with all writing, finding the human perspective and adding small details illuminate the story. Some of the best journalism comes from writing with the reader in mind. Steve Lopez says he writes for readers, not journalists. He means that you can’t be afraid of what other journalists think; you just have to give readers what they want. Anthony Shadid brings the human perspective to life in his stories by avoiding the media and driving around to find stories. He attempts to humanize the war impact and show Americans how we are similar to the people affected by the war. Jim Dwyer’s story about the window washer was the best humanizing technique that I read. He brings the man to life and tells the story of his escape in the 9/11 disaster by adding small details and focusing on the man’s “squeegee.”

Mark Fritz uses the technique of showing his readers how international news has an impact on them as Americans. He does an extreme amount of research to back up his facts and bring credibility to his stories.

Other great stories:

Nightmare in the 9th Ward all too real for one woman by Trymaine D. Lee

This story is a good example of humanizing the Hurricane Katrina disaster. It is reminiscent of Jim Dwyer’s piece in that it focuses on one woman and her experience. It tells the story of where she was in the disaster and then discusses how she is still haunted by the after effects.

What do you save from a house full of memories? By Paul Pringle

What I thought was unique about this story was that Pringle focuses on a different aspect of a fire. Instead of just detailing the disaster and what happened, he takes this idea of “what would you save” and focuses his story on that. I think that is a question that almost everyone has asked themselves at least one, and it’s a unique take on a disaster story.

I saw it all, then I saw nothing by Daniel Henninger

This story is told from a first person perspective, which already lends a unique and more humanized feel. The story is told in chronological order, with small details included, such as the coffee shop with cinnamon raisin croissants.

Panic yields to relief for lucky by Bruce Finley and David Olinger

I chose this story because it employs the technique of hard hitting, short sentences. For example “Trouble at Columbine.” “Gunshots.” “Helpless, Debbie Jones prayed.” These sentences don’t require much explanation but they get the point across.

Pakistan Marble Helps Taliban stay in Business by Pir Zubair Shah and Jane Perlez

This is an interesting story because the reporters went straight into dangerous territory to get the story. They expose the story of a quarry who is in debt to the Taliban with incredible detail.



Written by juliasayers

April 1, 2011 at 9:27 am

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