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Wetzel on Steubenville

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Alma, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    I'm sure there's a thread on the case somewhere, but I'm creating a separate thread if only to draw attention to one of the few effective uses of anonymity you'll see. By stripping the folks in the bar of their identities -- even stripping the bar itself of that -- Wetzel is able to get more access to their words, create a disharmonious chorus, draw out a few money quotes and translate fear in the same column. Clever, too, of Wetzel to leave the most "odious" theories to the imagination. The "argument at the bar" tactic is an old journalistic trope, but it works here. Wetzel even stumbles on some irony, as seen in the opening graf, when a bar full of hardened people were watching Ellen Degeneres.

    This works on a number of levels. As usual, Wetzel's fierce sense of applicable and meaningful detail assists him plenty.

  2. As odious as the allegations are, I hope the defendants get a fair trial. Outside the courtroom is just a circus right now.
  3. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

  4. Charlie Brown

    Charlie Brown Member

    I'm sure it's a good story, but when I see a mistake in the first five words, it dampens my enthusiasm for continuing.

    A "fierce sense of applicable and meaningful detail" should include bothering to get a person's name right in the lede.
  5. Norrin Radd

    Norrin Radd New Member

    Valuable to discuss this piece separately, away from the noise of that thread.
  6. SFIND

    SFIND Well-Known Member

    I've never been a fan of the "overhard-at-the-bar" stuff, but this is great.
  7. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

  8. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

  9. Charlie Brown

    Charlie Brown Member

    I agree with this. Read the whole story just now, and it is strong for all the reasons Alma described. However, one could make an argument in favor of anonymity on many, many stories and use the justification Alma outlined. By stripping just about anyone of their identity, one could argue, you would be able to get more access to their words, create a disharmonious chorus, draw out a few money quotes and translate whatever overriding emotion and mind-set you want to illustrate in the same column.

    Thing is, how many writers are skilled enough to pull it off, and how many editors would yield to anonymity? One of the few effective uses of anonymity, indeed. Alma nailed that one.
  10. tmr

    tmr Member

    I'm from this town and the real case, the one being argued in court, has nothing to do with football or culture, just an actual crime. But the story is also the way the town has reacted and Wetzel does a pretty good job here.

    The bar scene was a pretty effective tool to discuss how the case is perceived in town, a locus of rumors, misinformation, gossip and ignorance.

    As someone who is from that actual town, I have a few problems with basing a column on their words, but I'm biased in that sense. There are plenty of people to interview to get a nuanced sense of the town's reaction, but it's tough to parachute in and do so. So I guess a bar was a good place to start.

    It really is a decrepit town in many ways, a really awful downtown, closed mills, old houses, which is damn sad for me and my friends. It's tough to complain about details and depictions of a city when the real crime is a rape of a teenage girl and it bothers me when i see friends and acquaintances do so on facebook. I don't blame him for beating the reader over the head with the hardscrabble stuff. The stadium has been that size for many decades (it was built in 1930s) as the town's population has shrank dramatically, so that quote about it rings very silly to someone who knows that. the city really doesn't revolve around one football team, but it is popular and it is something the city (or at least those who went to the HS) takes pride in.

    Obviously, as someone intimately familiar with the town, i had a few problems with the column, and coverage in general of the case (a lot of overdramatization and simplification, to be expected), but this was good.
  11. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    I've never been to Steubenville or lived in the Rust Belt, but it bothers me that every Rust Belt town gets described the exact same way by every national writer.
  12. tmr

    tmr Member

    Yeah, that's what bugs me too. There are plenty of ways to describe the town by actually describing it. Or asking a local to describe what it looked like before. If anyone wants a visual, see "Super 8," which is filmed in Weirton, W.Va. They didn't need to do much to make it looks 70s. Parts of Deer Hunter were filmed nearby too.
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