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News story on new anti-crime initiative - trying again

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by forever_town, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    I tried a different approach to this story from my normal straight news approach. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    Joyce Conyers remembers the pain of losing her son to gun violence. A sign in front of a podium at a Monday press conference in the Mount Rainier Police Department's multipurpose room reminded the audience.
    Her son, Willie Herman Baskerville, Jr., died Dec. 27, 2001 when Desmond Perry shot him in Palmer Park while Baskerville was taking a woman home he'd met earlier that week. The sign said, "In memory of Willie Herman Baskerville, Jr."
    "I get this phone ring that tells my mom that my son is no longer there," Conyers said. She relayed the "I Love You" game she and her son would play where each one would call the other to say, "I love you."
    She told the crowd about her family's experiences after Baskerville died.
    "When my case happened, I just fell completely apart," Conyers said. She said the killer "walked up to [Baskerville's] car and decided he didn't belong in this neighborhood."
    Perry was convicted on all counts and sentenced to life in prison without parole, Conyers said.
    Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, Prince George's County Councilman Will Campos (D-Dist. 2), U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jeffrey Taylor, Washington, D.C. City Councilman Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) and National Crime Prevention Council President and CEO Alfonso Lenhardt gathered there with Conyers and fellow crime survivor Michelle Smith-Wilson to announce a cross border initiative as part of Victims' Awareness Month, which began Tuesday.
    Before Conyers spoke, she and Smith-Wilson hugged. As Conyers began her speech, she acknowledged Smith-Wilson, who relayed the story of the shooting death of her stepdaughter Talisha Ford.
    "We lost a valuable piece of our lives," Smith-Wilson said. She said the trauma of losing her stepdaughter, whom she said she loved as if she were her own led her to feel depressed.
    "I know I was breathing, but I wish I wasn't," she said through sobs. "I was a one-woman wrecking ball," she added, telling the audience that she nearly single-handedly tore her family apart in her grief.
    She then called for services to not be limited to immediate families of victims.
    "Services should not be limited to family members," she said, "they should be available to anyone who needs them." She included extended families, boyfriends, girlfriends and best friends as people who should receive counseling and support.
    After Smith-Wilson and before Conyers spoke, Ivey acknowledged the difficulties Smith-Wilson had and Conyers would face.
    "I know these are very powerful, very raw comments," Ivey said. "But this is what people are going through." He said that gathering lawmakers from Washington, D.C. and Prince George's County at the press conference was a signal that the jurisdictions would work together to fight crime.
    "We're serving a common community," Ivey said as he began the press conference.
    "I visit churches every weekend and I know in every church there are survivors and victims of crimes," he said. "We need the community's help to turn that around."
    Campos said the communities on both sides of the Maryland-D.C. border needed to work together to fight crime.
    "We know the challenges that we have if we don't work together and we only see a dividing line," Campos said. Without cooperation between the communities, we won't get anything done."
    Campos also discussed the issue of domestic violence and how it affects immigrant communities, saying that some victims are afraid to call law enforcement because of language barriers or immigrant status.
    "Domestic violence doesn't know ethnic boundaries," Campos said.
    "We are here to help you," he said. "Don't be afraid to call."
    Thomas said crime is not confined to any one community.
    "This is not just a local issue," he said. "It's a nationwide epidemic." He added praise for Ivey's work as State's Attorney.
    "The thing I appreciate about Glenn is he keeps it real," Thomas said of Ivey's efforts to remind children of the consequences of their actions. He also cited the symbolism of the police station's Route 1 location as a reason for beginning the initiative there.
    "Route 1 is the oldest highway in the nation," he said. "What better place [to begin the initiative]?"
    Taylor said fighting crime wasn't just the job of law enforcement or elected officials.
    "It's our job," he said. "But it's everybody's responsibility," he said. He cited jury duty and serving as a trial witness as responsibilities citizens have in the battle against crime.
    "Without [citizen involvement], the system does not work," he said.
    Conyers said one moment that demonstrated the difficulties her family had dealing with Baskerville's death came with her younger son, now 15. She said he ran through the house up and down stairs with a piece of paper and had a bad attitude. She said he told her, "it took me a long time to get this 'A'" and he "wanted to show it to [Baskerville] and he was gone."
    She added one final warning to would-be criminals.
    "When you take a life, you don't just take a life, you take a piece of the community."
  2. IllMil

    IllMil Active Member

    You probably want help from someone a little less green, but I read it and noticed a couple of things:

    Thought this was awkward: "while Baskerville was taking a woman home he'd met earlier that week" Maybe change it to "taking home a woman?"

    Awful lot of hers and shes in that sentence. Kind of reads poorly.

    Attributed twice?

    Again, you told us that he praised Ivey twice. I would stick to using the setup or the description of what he said, not both. I would consider taking that quote out entirely, because I think your description of what he said adds more to the story than his pretty bland quote.

    I thought it was a good story. My criticism would be that it got weaker toward the end, and seems a bit quote-happy. Some quotes are good and some not so good. Maybe remove some quotes and tell the story better yourself.
  3. Here's a couple of thoughts, FT:

  4. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    Thanks for the feedback, guys. Much appreciated.
  5. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr Town,

    Lead: I wonder if you'd be better off if you said the mother, shuddered and wept, fainted or whatever rather than said "remembered." Just something more visual or evocative. Second sentence: I don't know if "reminded" is the right word for the crowd. If they knew before and might have forgotten, perhaps. Maybe if you had respectful, empathetic silence falling over the room. Remembered and reminded, you probably want to lead with a couple of stronger verbs. Also, I sorta want to know what type of sign it is ... I know this sounds like a trivial point but it just goes to detail, making it easier to visualize.

    YD&OHS, etc
  6. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Omit multi-purpose room. Just say police department.
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