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The New Yorker on the Newtown Bee

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Dick Whitman, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    The piece itself is unfortunately behind a paywall, but if anyone is a subscriber or has some other means of getting ahold of it, there is an interesting feature in this week's New Yorker about how the Newtown Bee weekly newspaper handled coverage of the school shooting:


    The writer, Rachel Aviv, took a mostly fly-on-the-wall approach, and largely lets you read between the lines to determine what to criticize and what to praise. I'm sure it was a tough line to walk, between seeming to be patting the small paper on the head for its understandably, at times, soft coverage of the tragedy, which would have made The New Yorker seem condescending, and rightly criticizing it for the same, which would have made The New Yorker seem like a bully.

    Among the interesting material in the story:

    * The photographer who took the iconic photo of the line of young children leaving the school building is also a fire fighter in town. That has opened her up to some criticism that she should have been participating rather than documenting the events.

    * As the first reports filtered in over the police scanner, the paper's reporters thought someone had been shot in the foot.

    * You get some idea of how weary the town's publisher has become of conspiracy theorists picking apart every utterance by the paper. Some of them arrive at the office itself.

    * The paper has also become weary of outside media, and seems to have taken the side of residents who want them out.

    * There are, fair warning, a couple of lines in the piece, delivered largely deadpan, that kind of take your breath away and force you to stop reading for a moment before you can forge on.

    I post it here because I think it nicely dove tails with the APSE/NCAA Tournament thread about the value of access, as well as various discussions here and elsewhere through the years about conflicts of interest and the limits - or wisdom - of complete objectivity.
  2. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    Please post a couple of these, if possible. I'd like to see something that makes me stop breathing and forces me to stop before forging on. That is truly rare. Like, never.
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    "Connecticut's governor, Dannel Malloy, who had arrived two hours earlier, finally announced that no more students would be coming out of the school. A rabbi at the firehouse said that he stood next to one mother and encouraged her, every few seconds, to breathe. 'My focus was cardiac arrest,' he said. 'I didn't want the physiological reaction to kill her.'"

    "(O)ne father described looking at his son in his casket with a bullet wound to the forehead."
  4. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    It's a story about Newtown. Those types of sentences are to be expected (at least, lesser versions of them).
  5. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I think what makes them work so well in Aviv's piece is how effortless they arise, and organically from a story that's ostensibly not about the tragedy itself, but a peripheral narrative. People have tried a lot harder to make me cry over Newtown and been much less successful than Aviv here.
  6. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    Those are well-written. Neither make me catch my breath, stop before forging on or anything else like that.
  7. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    They are excerpts lifted from a lengthy story, presented without context.

    My whole point is how understated they are. Which is why they work. So of course they lose their power out of context.
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